Microsoft’s Bing prepares to swoop in on Australia

3 Feb 2021338 Views

Image: © chrisdorney/Stock.adobe.com

Amid Google’s tiff with Australia, Microsoft president Brad Smith said his company would ‘never make such a threat’ to leave the market.

Microsoft has given its support to the Australian media code that has rankled Google.

In recent weeks, Google has threatened to pull services in Australia over a new media law that would require search engines to compensate media outlets for using their content.

But now Microsoft has told the Australian government that Bing, its search engine rival that is a distant second to Google, will adhere to the code if required and continue providing services in the country.

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president, said the company “fully supports” the News Media Bargaining Code. He and chief executive Satya Nadella spoke last week with Australian prime minister Scott Morrison and communications minister Paul Fletcher to lend their support to the arrangements.

“The code reasonably attempts to address the bargaining power imbalance between digital platforms and Australian news businesses,” Smith said in a statement today (3 February).

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“While Microsoft is not subject to the legislation currently pending, we’d be willing to live by these rules if the government designates us.”

The company said it will allow small businesses in Australia to transfer their search advertising to Bing at no cost.

“We will invest further to ensure Bing is comparable to our competitors and we remind people that they can help, with every search Bing gets better at finding what you are looking for,” Smith added.

“While other tech companies may sometimes threaten to leave Australia, Microsoft will never make such a threat,” he said, in a not-so-subtle reference to Google.

Should Google exit Australia, it would leave a considerable market open for search. In Australia, much like in North America and Europe, Google dominates with over 90pc of the market share.

Facebook, which would also fall under the remit of the new code, has taken a similar stance to Google. It has called the arrangements unworkable and has warned it will remove some of its services in Australia.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin

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