Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed that he spoke to Google archenemy Microsoft, and said the company is confident that Bing could fill the void in Australia if Google withdraws its search service there. Google as well as Facebook have been in a continuing feud with the Australian government over new media payment laws.
“I can tell you, Microsoft’s pretty confident, when I spoke to [Microsoft CEO] Satya [Nadella],” said Morrison, according to Reuters. He added, “We just want the rules in the digital world to be the same that exist in the real world, in the physical world.”
But replacing Google could be a tall order. According to web analytics service Statcounter, Google captures nearly 95% of the search engine market in Australia. Bing comes in an extremely distant second at 3.62%.
It’s possible that, as BBC News noted, Google might ultimately just redirect Australian users to another country’s (eg. US) version of its search engine, but that means no localised search results.
Australia is planning to implement new laws requiring companies like Google and Facebook to pay local media outlets for (their) content shown in search results or news feeds. Both companies have strongly resisted the legal change, with Google saying that it “would give a handful of news businesses an advantage over everybody else.”
Microsoft confirmed that its CEO spoke to Morrison, and said, “We recognise the importance of a vibrant media sector and public interest journalism in a democracy and we recognise the challenges the media sector has faced over many years through changing business models and consumer preferences.”