Bing! Microsoft commits to invest in Aus if Google withdraws

Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella and president Brad Smith have publicly announced that Microsoft would fill the void left in the Australian market, were Google to proceed with its plan to withdraw as a result of the News Media Bargaining Code proceeding in its current form.

According to a statement from US headquartered Microsoft, Nadella and Smith spoke last week with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher about the government’s proposed code to regulate payments between digital platforms and Australian-based news businesses.

Digital Content Planning data released by Nielsen last week,  and endorsed by IAB Australia, showed that Microsoft, which owns Bing, Hotmail, LinkedIn and online video platform Teams, was the third top owner of digital platforms in use, by the 21 million Australian internet users included in the research.

However, despite being third, after Google and Facebook, when it comes to search platforms, Google had 95.25% of the online population, leaving less than 5% for the other platforms including Bing.

The statement issued by Microsoft said the company would “invest further” to ensure Bing is comparable to competitors, and that small businesses could transfer their advertising to Microsoft Advertising on Bing “with no transfer costs”.

Microsoft and its associated platforms are not subject to the legislation currently pending, but said it would be “willing to live by these rules if the government designates us”.

Currently only Facebook and Google are subject to the arbitrary code which would see them pay for links and snippets of Australian-produced news.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen Microsoft’s revenues surge as a result of PC sales, growing demand for video game, and increased use of its cloud services. The company last week reported a 17% increase in quarterly revenue, to $US43.1 billion.

In the year ended 30 June 2020, Microsoft Australia posted $4.2 billion in revenue, up 41% from $2.98 billion the previous year. Profit after tax also increased to $120 million for the period, up 10% from $108.5 million last year.

At the senate hearing on Monday, Treasury – the government department responsible for the code’s tabling in parliament struggled to answer questions about whether Bing or DuckDuckGo are adequate substitutes should “armageddon” happen and Google leaves the market. 

Google has been promoting its Google News Showcase product as an alternative solution to the News Media Bargaining Code legislation. 


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