With Google threatening in January to pull its popular search services out of Australia if forced to financially compensate news media for using content from their sites on its own, speculation around the future of online search in Australia has heated up significantly.
Seeing an opportunity, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella has already reached out to Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, to speak about the possibility of Bing filling the potential Google-sized hole that could appear in the near future.
“These are big technology companies and what’s important to Australia, I think, is that we set the rules that are right for our people,” Morrison told the National Press Club of Australia about his conversation. “Having a news environment in this country that is one that is sustainable and is supported commercially, then this is vital to how democracies function.”
Microsoft is in an curious position as, while its Bing search engine could very easily replace Google in popularity in Australia if Google’ search engine was given the boot, it could also find itself in the same position that Google currently is in if it ever reaches anywhere near the same scale. After all, the Australian government is really only dealing with Facebook and Google right now as far as compensating news media is concerned but that could change.
Microsoft yesterday released a statement that essentially acknowledges the controversy though ultimately, and understandably, doesn’t choose a side in the debate.
“We recognize the importance of a vibrant media sector and public interest journalism in a democracy and we recognize the challenges the media sector has faced over many years through changing business models and consumer preferences,” Microsoft’s statement reads. “With respect to the current controversy over a potential code of conduct governing Google and Facebook, Microsoft is not directly involved and we wouldn’t want to comment on that ongoing process involving the ACCC and those companies.”
While the thought of Google fully removing its search services from Australia does seem rather extreme, it is important to emphasise that, if such a thing were to occur, YouTube, Gmail, and the various other wings of the Google brand would likely remain untouched.
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