Last november something strange happened in Mountain View. A thick fog enveloped the headquarters of Alphabet, the parent company of Google. Not the meteorological sort—this stretch of Silicon Valley is reliably sunny. It was a fog of confusion. Its cause was Chatgpt, an artificially intelligent conversationalist created by Openai, a startup backed by Microsoft. The effect was, by all accounts, panic. Chatgpt was giving uncannily humanlike answers to questions put to it by users. And answering questions is the bread and butter of Google’s lucrative search business. Were Openai and Microsoft, which in February launched an enhanced version of its Bing search engine, about to eat Google’s lunch?
Eight months on the mist has mostly cleared. On July 25th the company reported another set of solid quarterly results. Revenues rose by 7% year on year, to $75bn. It continues to create piles of cash: in the 12 months to June it raked in $75bn of operating profit. Bing has taken no discernible bite out of Google’s share of global monthly search queries, which remains above 90%.