Google is considering charging for new premium GenAI features, which would mark the first time the search engine giant has put any of its core products behind a paywall. 

Google is considering charging for features such as its Gemini AI assistant in Gmail and GenAI-powered search, the Financial Times reported, citing three people familiar with the matter. 

Big Tech companies including Google have been evaluating how to most effectively implement GenAI into their business models.

Engineers are reportedly working on developing the technology but are undecided on whether or when to launch it.

Google’s main search engine will remain free and ads will continue to be shown alongside search results even for paying customers, according to the FT

“We’re continuing to rapidly improve the product to serve new user needs,” a Google spokesperson said. 

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“We’re not working on or considering an ad-free search experience. As we’ve done many times before, we’ll continue to build new premium capabilities and services to enhance our subscription offerings across Google,” according to the spokesperson.

Tech companies like Google and Meta have scrambled to stay relevant in the GenAI space since ChatGPT’s launch. Google released its Bard chatbot, now named Gemini, in March 2023. The chatbot infamously made a factual mistake during a public demonstration a month prior.

Google’s executives have since fought back against claims that the company rushed the release of Bard to compete with Microsoft, which invested $100m in OpenAI.