There's beef between Google and Australia, and it's causing a great deal of uncertainty for marketers, news publishers and the everyday Australian internet user.
It comes after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) proposed laws that would force tech heavyweights Google and Facebook to pay domestic news outlets for their content, including payment for links and snippets.
Google and Facebook have called the regulations “unworkable” and have threatened to withdraw key services from the country, should the government push through with them.
So, if Google does leave Australia, what would that mean for the rest of us, and do we have a back-up plan in place?
What would Google’s exit mean for Aussies?
Most of us use Google’s suite of services every single day – from its search engine to Google Drive, Gmail and even smart products around our home.
Right now, Google has only threatened to stop making Search available in Australia. Although Mel Silva, managing director of Google Australia and New Zealand has said this would be a bad outcome for the Australian people, media diversity and small businesses, Scott Morrison has said in no uncertain terms, that “we don’t respond to threats.”
As for Facebook, the social media giant said they won’t be leaving Australia completely. Representatives have stated that the great majority of people using Facebook would be able to continue doing so, but that news articles on the platform could not be viewed by users in Australia.
Is Bing ready to step in?
Right now, Google holds 94% of the Australian search engine market share, with Bing holding just 4% (putting them in a pretty distant second position).
They have some big shoes to fill, but Scott Morrison has said Microsoft is confident that Bing has the capabilities to fill the void that could be left by Google. The transition to Bing, according to Morrison, would mean having a news environment that is sustainable and democratic.
The opening up of the Australian search market is an attractive opportunity to companies such as Bing, who has been in extensive talks with our government about expanding its presence down under. There are no current plans to force payments from smaller search engines, but that hasn’t been completely ruled out.
Could this be a positive change?
Morrison told the National Press Club of Australia that he didn’t expect Australians to be worse off in the post-Google era. The neutral statement probably didn’t fill many with confidence, and it’s likely that we’ll have to make a few adjustments to the way we work and play online, but the good news is that there are alternatives available.
If you’ve been using Google for as long as you can remember, you’ll know the tech giant likely holds a wealth of information about you in order to refine the results you see, through its data collection. If this doesn’t sit right with you, you’ll be glad to know switching to a new search engine could be like wiping the slate clean – other search engines should let you choose how much information they retain about you.
The fact is: Microsoft Bing is keen and ready to step in. Whether the company is able to accommodate users and small businesses that rely on Google everyday in the same way that good old Google can, is yet to be seen.
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