March 8, 2023
Tech giants Microsoft and Google, led by Indian-origin CEOs Satya Nadella and Sundar Pichai, respectively, are long-standing rivals. Both companies have competing products, including search engines (Bing vs. Google Search), productivity software (Office 365 vs. Google Workspace), and cloud services (Azure vs. Google Cloud). Both are apparent masters of their respective strengths. In 2022, Google Search was the leading search engine with a 91% market share, while Bing held just 3%. Meanwhile, Microsoft outperformed Google in monetizing its productivity software and cloud services.
The recent rapid adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) technology, however, threatens to upend these dynamics completely. Microsoft has invested an alleged $10 billion into OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT — an AI-powered chatbot that can answer any query with human-like responses — on top of previous investments that amount to as much as $2 billion.
Pichai and Google’s management team reportedly declared a “code red” less than a month after ChatGPT’s launch, and introduced a new AI chatbot, Bard, soon after. And, in recent weeks, Microsoft showed off a new version of Bing that incorporates ChatGPT. If Nadella plays his cards right, he could disrupt not only Google’s $162 billion ad search business, but also other businesses by using OpenAI across Microsoft services — from Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook to LinkedIn to Azure to Github.
Things are certainly heating up. But as onlookers watch on, with both Google and Microsoft launching more new products and taking more risks these past few months than they have in prior years, does it really matter who wins?