Talk of Microsoft potentially replacing Google in Australia has continued, with communications minister Paul Fletcher revealing the company is “significantly interested” in filling Google’s potential void.
With Google having threatened to withdraw Search from the Australian market, should the News Media Bargaining Code be passed into legislation as it stands, there are now concerns around what the future of web browsing will look like in Australia.
The government has reportedly turned to Microsoft as a potential replacement, given the tech giant already has an established search presence in the form of Bing.
Following Treasurer Josh Frydenberg confirming Microsoft’s interest over the weekend, communications minister Paul Fletcher told the ABC Microsoft has told the government it is looking to grow Bing’s presence in Australia.
“Microsoft, a giant American corporation, an information technology powerhouse, is very significantly interested in the market opportunity in Australia, should Google choose to withdraw its presence in search in Australia,” Fletcher told the ABC.
“The Microsoft CEO reached out to the prime minister and proposed a meeting, accompanied by senior executives, I was able to join that meeting, and we had a very informative discussion about Microsoft’s interest in the Australian market. At the moment they have a small market share in search, but they’re interested in expanding that, they’re interested in developing the presence of Bing here.”
Despite being the second most popular search engine behind Google, Bing currently boasts a 3.6 per cent market share in Australia.
It remains unclear how much involvement the government would have in assisting Microsoft in growing Bing’s Australian presence.
And while Google has now publicly said it is willing to leave the Australian market should the legislation be turned to law, Fletcher said he isn’t convinced the tech giant will make good on the threat.
“What Google and Facebook say they intend to do is really a matter for them,” he said. “We made it clear we very much prefer them to stay in Australia, they’re an important, significant part of the ecosystem, but ultimately these are business decisions.”
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