Google I/O, Google A.I. ⇥ platformer.news
Mat Honan, MIT Technology Review:
Google I/O is a highly, highly scripted event. For months now the company has faced criticism that its AI efforts were being outpaced by the likes of OpenAI’s ChatGPT or Microsoft Bing. Alarm bells were sounding internally, too. Today felt like a long-planned answer to that. Taken together, the demos came across as a kind of flex — a way to show what the company has under the hood and how it can deploy that technology throughout its existing, massively popular products (Pichai noted that the company has five different products with more than 2 billion users).
Google I/O was a far cry from its scrambled and awkward presentation earlier this year, and it is notable how much it built on its similarly A.I-heavy I/O presentation last year and the year before.
But while I imagine the features will vary in quality and usefulness, one thing is becoming clear about the near-term AI future: technology alone is not enough to totally reset the competitive landscape. Incumbents can gain significant ground simply by bringing new features into the products that people are already using — and getting users to switch platforms is proving more difficult some imagined it would be.
The lesson here is that, with the possibly lone exception of ChatGPT, users are mostly not seeking out AI as a destination unto itself. Rather, they’re waiting for it to transform into useful products and services — ideally, products and services that they’re already using.
Early predictions of Google’s impeding demise — to Bing, of all things — appear to have been greatly exaggerated. Regardless of the hype around the newer, smarter Bing, Google’s market share has not been dented. Google has cunningly allowed Microsoft to take the first steps into the unknown and, consequently, avoided some early mistakes.1
These technologies are undeniably exciting and perhaps concerning, but I think it is worth throwing cold water on media declarations of winners and losers at this stage. There is still no meaningful competition in the search engine business. Google’s announcements this week have ensured its unwillingness to permit public mindshare from slipping in Microsoft’s direction, even if actual usage remains safely Google’s domain.
Meta’s take on virtual reality seems like it has similar early mover problems. ↥︎