Microsoft Bing is offering to replace Google if the code dispute continues to the point where Google revokes services in Australia.
The news media code of negotiation, under which Google and Facebook will be legally required to pay news publishers to display their content, has led Google Australia chief executive Mel Silva to threaten to pull the services from the country during a Senate hearing on January 22.
Facebook made a similar threat, saying there was no business benefit to having news content appear on their feeds.
So far, Treasury officials have refused to discuss a contingency plan should the code be implemented, and Google is effectively pulling some of its services out of the country. They did, however, comment on the threats made:
‘It appears the digital giants did themselves a disservice last week when they very openly and publicly threatened the Australian public with an effective opt out of Australia by investigating whether the legislation continues in its current state.’
Australian Communications Minister Paul Fletcher also commented on Google and Facebook‘s comments on the withdrawal of services:
“We have made it clear that we would much rather they stay in Australia, they are an important and meaningful part of the ecosystem, but ultimately these are business decisions.”
In the meantime, Microsoft’s Bing has thrown its hat into the ring.
Bing proposes to take the place of Google
With a mere 3.62% search engine market share in Australia, compared to Google’s 94.45%, Bing took the opportunity to disclose its interest in further developing its presence in the country.
Paul Fletcher discussed a recent meeting with Bing:
“The CEO of Microsoft contacted the Prime Minister and offered a meeting, accompanied by senior executives, I was able to participate in this meeting, and we had a very informative discussion about Microsoft’s interest in the Australian market. For Right now they have a small market share in search, but they want to expand it, they want to grow Bing’s presence here.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described Bing as “fairly confident” but declined to comment further on the meeting that took place.
A Microsoft spokesperson commented that:
“We recognize the importance of a vibrant media sector and public interest journalism in a democracy and recognize the challenges the media sector has faced for many years due to changing business models and consumer preferences.”
What this means for research
It should be noted that Bing was not listed in the news media trading code, which only targets Google and Facebook.
This may change in the future,
However, as it stands, Bing and other search engines are not legally bound by the same monetary restrictions.
What this means for any negotiations or deals that might take place if Google or Facebook services are pulled from Australia is currently unknown.
Although Bing appears to lag behind Google when it comes to search engine market share, it will be interesting to see how they perform if the opportunity to dominate the market presents itself.