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Google to discontinue free search except for Nexus users

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 Google logo 1st April 2015

In a shock move today, Google have announced that they are to discontinue free access to their search engine citing a lack of commercial justification for maintaining the service.

Starting at midnight, Google will realign their search product lines. Google Free Search will be a new product available to everyone, with results made up entirely of either paid results (via Google AdWords or some other mechanism), and Google Premium Search which is effectively their traditional search engine which will operate on a paid basis.

 Google Play vouchers Google spokesperson Jess Kidden outlined the reasons for the change, citing the high cost to Google of maintaining the free search and referred to research that a couple of Google searches use as much electricity as boiling a kettle.

"We never intended to give it away for free," said Ms Kidden, "but essentially we have had a decade-and-a-half of beta testing which is now coming to an end. We are now ready to go live with the commercial product. Making it available for free would be foolish."

To use the Google Premium Search service, customers will need to buy credits from the Google Play store. Initially pricing for a single search will be set at 10 US cents (or the equivalent in local currency), although it is anticipated that large-scale users will be able to get a discount or there will be an annual subscription for $399.

If you use a Google Nexus phone or tablet, then Google will give a free 12 month subscription to Premium Search, which certainly makes the Nexus line a more attractive proposition.

In our opinion, many consumers will be happy with the Free Search product as they only ever click on the ads anyway, and most large businesses advertise through Google even if they would be number one in the organic search results anyway. For example, if you Google for "Ford" then the first result is an ad for Ford, despite the fact that they top the search results for that term anyway.

 Nexus Smaller businesses may well feel the impact though, many of them will be invisible with the Free Search product and will therefore need to pay Google for inclusion in the search results instead. In fact, this is not a new idea as Inktomi pioneered the idea of paid inclusion in the early noughties.

At the moment, Bing has not announced any intention to follow Google's example, although as the handful of Bing users will tell you, you can't actually find anything with it anyway.

We welcome this change as an end to the freeloading neo-communist pinko liberal subversive hippie wishy-washy veganism that has plagued the Internet since its creation, and wholeheartedly endorse the superior and wholly trustworthy economy of free market capitalism.

(Yes, it is April 1st)


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