Microsoft Bing is offering to replace Google should the Code dispute continue to the point where Google revokes services in Australia.
The News Media Bargaining Code, whereby Google and Facebook will be legally obligated to pay news publishers to display their content, resulted in Google Australia’s Managing Director, Mel Silva, threatening to pull services from the country in a Senate hearing on January 22.
Facebook made a similar threat, stating that there was no commercial benefit to surfacing news content on their feeds.
So far, Treasury officials have refused to discuss a contingency plan should the Code be implemented, and Google does indeed pull some of their services from the country. They have, however, commented on the threats made:
“It seems that digital giants did themselves a big disservice last week when they very openly and publicly threatened the Australian public with pulling out of Australia effectively with search if legislation proceeds as it currently stands.”
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Australia’s minister of communications, Paul Fletcher, has also commented on Google and Facebook’s comments on withdrawing services:
“We made it clear we very much prefer them to stay in Australia, they’re an important, significant part of the ecosystem, but ultimately these are business decisions.”
In the meantime, Microsoft’s Bing has thrown their hat into the ring.
Bing Offers to Take Google’s Place
With a mere search engine market share of 3.62% in Australia, compared to Google’s 94.45%, Bing has taken this opportunity to divulge their interest in further developing their presence in the country.
Paul Fletcher discussed a recent meeting with Bing:
“The Microsoft CEO reached out to the prime minister and proposed a meeting, accompanied by senior executives, I was able to join that meeting, and we had a very informative discussion about Microsoft’s interest in the Australian market. At the moment they have a small market share in search, but they’re interested in expanding that, they’re interested in developing the presence of Bing here.”
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Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, described Bing as “pretty confident,” but refused to comment further on the meeting that took place.
A spokeswoman for Microsoft commented that:
“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.”
What This Means for Search
It’s worth noting that Bing has not been listed within the News Media Bargaining Code, which only targets Google and Facebook.
This could change in the future,
However, as it stands, Bing and other search engines are not legally held to the same monetary confinements.
What this means for any negotiations or agreements that may take place should Google or Facebook services be withdrawn from Australia is currently unknown.
While Bing does seem to trail behind Google regarding search engine market share, it will be interesting to see how they perform should the opportunity to dominate the market arise.