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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Samsung may replace Google with Bing on Galaxy

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, left, and Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Electronics executive chairman, during Lee's visit to the U.S. company's headquarters in Washington, in November 2021. [SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS]
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, left, and Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Electronics executive chairman, during Lee’s visit to the U.S. company’s headquarters in Washington, in November 2021. [SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS]

Samsung Electronics is mulling replacing its Galaxy smartphones’ default search engine, Google, with Microsoft’s Bing, according to a media report.

With artificial intelligence (AI)-powered search engines such as Bing posing a “serious threat” to Google’s search engine market dominance, the IT giant is scrambling to speed up the development of a new search engine equipped with AI features, reported The New York Times on Sunday, citing internal documents.

Samsung Electronics did not confirm the report.

Google is currently installed as a preloaded app on Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy devices. As Samsung is the world’s biggest smartphone maker, the deal is estimated to be worth $3 billion a year for Google, according to the New York Times, which reported that the possible shift “shocked Google’s employees.”

Amid the accelerating global AI race, Google’s ongoing project, named Magi, aims to upgrade its search engine service with improved personalization features. The release schedule has not been decided yet, but the company reportedly plans to release the features to up to 30 million users by the end of this year.

“Not every brainstorm deck or product idea leads to a launch, but as we’ve said before, we’re excited about bringing new AI-powered features to search, and will share more details soon,” said Lara Levin, a Google spokeswoman, in a statement.

Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Electronics executive chairman, met with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in November last year during Nadella’s visit to Korea to discuss future businesses like AI.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates also met with Lee in Korea in August, recently mentioning on social media that he uses the Galaxy Z Fold 4 smartphone released last year, a gift from the Samsung chief. Gates wrote that the latest Samsung foldable is “a far cry from the heavy brick I was lugging around during the early Microsoft days.
Samsung has been rolling out Android smartphones starting 2009 as Google mainly focused on the software business. But Google has recently been expanding its presence in the hardware market with its upcoming Pixel Fold, a foldable smartphone model, and Pixel Watch, a wearable device released last year along with the Pixel 7 smartphone.

However, with Google providing the Android operating system to Samsung devices, it is unlikely that the replacement will actually happen, according to an industry source.

With ChatGPT gaining explosive traction worldwide, Microsoft has emerged as a strong contender against Google’s overwhelming dominance in the search engine market.

Microsoft recently introduced Prometheus, a more developed version of OpenAI’s ChatGPT language model. Prometheus has been incorporated into the Bing search engine. Bing garnered over 100 million daily active users for the first time ever in March, following the release of Bing Chat on Feb. 7.

While the explosive popularity of ChatGPT nudged Google to launch its rival service, Bard, in March to a limited number of users, Google is yet to deploy an AI model to its search engine.

As of March, Google represented 93.2 percent of the global search engine market share, according to market tracker StatCounter.

BY SHIN HA-NEE [shin.hanee@joongang.co.kr]