Microsoft vs. Alphabet – the AI race is on
By Matt Liffe, CEO, Beyond
AI is the new technology arms race. Generative AI is going to be so transformational and pervasive that the big tech companies are pouring all their efforts into being one of the leaders in this new technology era.
Building the infrastructure to support AI is expensive, but without this investment, the missed opportunity cost for companies like Microsoft and Alphabet is infinitely more threatening. Generative AI constitutes a major disruptive threat to Google’s core search business, but it also represents a huge opportunity for Google as AI disrupts every facet of our digital life.
The primary cost for AI development is the infrastructure to support the huge compute needed to support Generative AI. As adoption increases, investments in infrastructure will increase with it. Despite the huge investment, the major players are not passing the full cost of this on to consumers, preferring to encourage users to adopt and innovate using this technology. Scaling is crucial to bring down costs in the long run – it’s a lengthy longtail investment, but one all tech giants are prepared to make. Not joining the race would arguably be more expensive.
Trust is the next frontier in generative AI, and an unlock for further adoption. Trust in the outputs of AI, but also trust with the general public and fostering a sense of enthusiasm for its potential to make the world a better place. If this trust can be embedded into the core offerings of tech giants focussed on AI, then this will support their long-term strategies and have a significant impact on their market successes.
We are just at the start of understanding what Generative AI is and what it will do in the future. Just over a year ago, the public didn’t know Chat GPT existed, and now it’s the buzzword of the day, with a dozen competitors scrambling to catch up. Profits are not the only thing to consider here – Google and Microsoft’s reputational positions are at stake, and in the world of tech, it’s sink or invest.
Certainly, Alphabet has some ground to recover, but its recent Gemini models gave Google a big leap forward, and the gap is closing. Google has long been leading the charge behind the scenes on AI, even developing the transformer – the T in Chat GPT – providing the basis for the past year’s accelerated innovation. Despite the exciting developments we’ll continue to see, underestimating Google would be a mistake.