Following an explosive start to the year, the world’s seemingly insatiable appetite for ChatGPT seems to be cooling (lead image: Sam Altman, OpenAI CEO).
New data has revealed that desktop and mobile web traffic to the chatbot dropped 9.7 per cent from May to June this year while overall unique visitors to the site dropped 5.7 per cent. Overall time on site was also down 8.5 per cent.
A cooling of interest should have been expected and it might not spell particularly bad news for OpenAI, the company behind the chatbot, said David F Carr, senior insights manager at Similarweb, which produced the data.
“Whether OpenAI management is broken-hearted about the dip in traffic is debatable. Initially launched as a technology demo, the ChatGPT website primarily serves as a loss leader generating sales leads for OpenAI, which makes its technology available for other companies to embed in their applications,” he explained.
In fact, Altman described the cost of operating the mostly free service as “eye-watering” – external estimates have pegged it at about US$700,000 (AU$1.04 million) per day. However, traffic to platform.openai.com, the company’s developer website increased by 3.1 per cent from May to June. This section of the company’s site serves as the entry point to its main money-spinning arm.
The release of ChatGPT caused a great deal of consternation in adland (not least within the B&T offices) and saw agencies and brands alike delight in the tool or decry it as a flawed gimmick. M&C Saatchi’s Re Design even held an event in Sydney that culminated with two teams of creatives pitted head-to-head to see whether generative AI tools including ChatGPT could produce better creative work. Fortunately for those in the room, the human brains were deemed to win the day.
But, while ChatGPT and OpenAI seem to be running out of steam, Twitter rival Bluesky is growing in popularity. Following Twitter supremo Elon Musk’s announcement that the site will temporarily limit the number of posts that users can read per day, decentralised social site Bluesky said it experienced “record-high traffic.”
Bluesky, backed by original Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, is still in an invite-only stage but said in a post on Saturday that its systems were experiencing “some degraded performance as a result of record-high traffic. It that it had to temporarily pause sign-ups to deal with the performance issues before resuming them late on Sunday.
Bluesky was founded back in 2019 and runs on a decentralised networking technology called the AT Protocol that could, in theory, allow users to maintain their identities across multiple platforms. At present, the site only has around 50,000 users but it would seem as though interest is growing.
Bluesky’s business, meanwhile, sits in two separate parts. There is Bluesky, the project developing and improving the AT Protocol and Bluesky PBLLC (Public Benefit Limited Liability Company), the business arm. Bluesky receives funding from Bluesky PBLLC — with a PBLLC denoting that it is still allowed to make profits but is immune to shareholder action over lack of profits. The Bluesky team believe that this status will allow the company to put mission over money.
Currently, the business has only received US$13 million in funding from Dorsey, who also sits on the company’s board. Jeromy Johnson, who serves as a technical adviser to Bluesky and goes by the name Whyrusleeping, said in early April that the company was “Not going to rely solely on ads, but also not going to be dogmatic about not doing ads.”
While there might be more public interest in the platform, we would hold off having any meetings about Bluesky ad spend just yet.
Twitter alternatives are becoming far more common, as well. Instagram’s text-only Twitter rival Threads recently leaked on the Google Play Store before swiftly being pulled. A full launch is rumoured to happen on Thursday. Watch this space.
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