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Why Google and Costco Have More in Common Than You Might Think
First mover doesn't always win the race...
Google may not be first mover in the world of using a chatbot like ChatGPT for search...
But by being second, Google still might wind up being first.
When ChatGPT made its big splash back in November, it seemed as though it caught Google sleeping. Maybe it did... But maybe it doesn't matter.
Just the way it doesn't matter that big-box retailer Costco (COST) has intentionally dragged its feet on adopting so many new approaches to retailing and marketing, including seemingly being last to the party for offering online shopping.
Obviously, the world of search is different. Only two players count, and one is gargantuan... so big, in fact, it might have been lulled into complacency.
And thanks to the rollout of ChatGPT, changes are happening faster than probably anything since the creation of the Internet itself...
Or so we've been told.
In the span of a mere six months, by not being first mover, Google was able to avoid some of the controversies that tarnished ChatGPT. And despite the hullabaloo over ChatGPT, Bing's market share has barely budged.
And just yesterday Google outlined its full approach to “conversational AI,” including plans to continue building out its Bard AI platform – its version of ChatGPT – separately from search.
Its strategy may work, for the simple reason that we're all creatures of habit. At least, when it comes to "search," I know I am.
Google is my default...
I like the look and feel, and as much as I've tried using Bing, I always come back to Google.
For some searches, I've added ChatGPT to the mix. And even though it drives Bing's chat, I find the native ChatGPT to be better.
I've also added Google's chatbot Bard to the mix... and often I'll ask all three the same question, since accuracy remains a big problem.
What I've noticed is this: Despite concerns over mistakes, the chatbots have sped up the way I search... even by asking all three the same question. One reason is that as a former journalist, I like to ask questions. Long before chatbots were a thing, I'd search by asking questions.
But then I'd have to layer in various follow-up searches to get an answer. Now, knowing full well the "answer" may not be factually correct, I find myself using the chatbots as a jumping off point.
A lazy way out? Perhaps, but sometimes I just want an answer...
So, for example, I was curious about what was different between the "extended display" and "main screen" settings on my MacBook Pro. (I use two screens, and never gave much thought about it, until stumbling on the extended setting the other day.)
A simple search of "MacBook Pro" and "extended screen" forced me to click through various responses.
By going to Bard in five seconds, I got the exact answer I was looking for.
Just yesterday I was trying to think of a quote Bill Maher often says... something like, “Don't ask me why I know it's true, i just do."
First I went to Google and put in a standard search, saying something like “Maher” and “don’t ask me why I know.” After a minute of useless responses, I went to Bard, and within a few seconds...
Then I went over to ChatGPT, just to be sure. In a flash...
Then, for fun I went to ChatGPT on Bing. It was so laughably horrible, as I’m finding quite a few of the Bing ChatGPT response to be, I won’t even bore you with the answer.
Those of us who have been around since the dawn of the dot-com era joke about how all of today's chatbots are little more than a supercharged version of Ask Jeeves, which morphed into the pathetic Ask.com.
Truth is, Jeeves was on the right track, because most people simply don't know where or how to find answers, and they don't want to spend time searching.
Chatbots might not be the full answer, but after months of experimenting, they're a welcome addition... at least they are to my research toolkit. And much like Costco, being slow off the block may work to Google's advantage.
► Here's my question to you...
Have you experimented with Bard or Bing? If so, what are your impressions? Let me know below.
Feel free to contact me at email@example.com. You can follow me on Twitter @herbgreenberg.
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