Google Wants Gmail To Help Win the AI War

(Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash)

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The smartest chatbot doesn’t automatically win the AI race.

Google is going to sell generative-AI-powered productivity tools, including corporate Gmail accounts, for $30 per user, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal. Of course, Gmail already has some generative AI in it, given generative AI is basically very fancy auto-complete — as well as its predilection for trying to make you sign off emails with uncharacteristically jolly turns of phrase.

Gathering Clouds

Google is one of the world’s three biggest cloud providers. Unfortunately for the company, it’s the smallest of the three and its cloud division only just turned profitable in April this year. As of February 2023, Amazon’s AWS dominated 33% of the global cloud market. Microsoft’s Azure commanded 23%, and Google held 11%. Microsoft just so happens to be a major backer of ChatGPT, Google’s nemesis in the generative-AI-hype cycle, which also happened to announce last month it’s teaming up with Meta of all companies to sell a $30-per-month–per-user generative AI assistant that could be bolted onto its own suite of workplace tools.

Google might just have a leg up in this particular battlefield because, dear reader, chances are you’re reading this on a Gmail rather than an Outlook account:

  • According to email marketing company Litmus, as of July 2023, Gmail held a 23% market share of email clients, compared to Microsoft Outlook’s 4%.
  • Google’s idea is the $30-per-month add-on will let corporate Gmail users have the chatbot draft emails for them or make Cliff Notes out of that huge memo that HR sent around on Friday that you just haven’t got around to reading yet.

G-Whizz: Google’s ubiquity in other brands’ products might also give it a significant boost in getting its AI products out to the world. On Tuesday, it announced partnerships with General Electric and General Motors to infuse their respective appliances and cars with loquacious AI. Google has pre-existing relationships with plenty of automakers who opted to integrate its tech into their vehicles, and while Windows isn’t exactly an also-ran, it hasn’t burrowed its way into quite as many products as Android. Meanwhile, Apple lurks quietly yet ominously in the background.