Why Google Should Launch a ChatGPT Competitor
Last week I wrote a piece noting how my wife Michelle’s Google usage was down by nearly two thirds, thanks to her discovery of ChatGPT. I noted that Michelle isn’t exactly an early adopter — but that’s not entirely true. Michelle is more of a harbinger — if an early tech product “fits” her, she’ll adopt it early and often — and it’s usually a winner once it goes mainstream. The early Tivo DVRs come to mind — and they remain a better product than anything that’s come since in the television world (another example of how entrenched business models kill innovation).
But few early versions of any new product get to “Michelle market fit” on first attempt. For it to happen with an AI chatbot — well before I developed the habit — is rarer still. I mean, I’m supposed to be the early adopter around here!
So once I noticed Michelle was hooked, I asked her how she wrangles ChatGPT. As I noted in my last post, the majority of her usage focuses on information-intensive projects that tend to get messy when attempted with Google. For example, Michelle’s managing a real estate project with a complex set of inputs. The property requires extensive renovations but must conform to certain community regulations and standards. With the summer rental season approaching, she needs to make scores of decisions on everything from paint colors to septic system contractors. Prior to ChatGPT, Michelle would have started her searches inside Google, but quickly been frustrated by “content cruft” — reams of crappy results and, in her words, “way too many ads.” For commercial searches about household appliances, construction projects, landscaping ideas, and the like, Google’s index favors the kind of content created by “advertising mills” — cheap, low calorie stuff that crowds out the kind of trusted advice Michelle is seeking. She knows she’s being steered into choices that create profit for Google’s ecosystem.
Faced with those kinds of results, Michelle is more likely to call a friend who has already done what she’s looking to do, get one simple answer (even if it’s not exactly right), and go with it. And this is the first insight that springs to mind when I talk to Michelle about ChatGPT. For her, the…