- Bing could replace Google in Australia, a local government minister has suggested.
- Google has threatened to pull out of Australia over new regulation about payments to news publishers.
- Microsoft is said to be ‘significantly interested’ in the market potential of a Google exit.
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Microsoft’s search engine Bing could replace Google, if the search giant follows through on threats to cut off services in Australia, according to local government officials.
The provocation is the latest in an ongoing spat between the Australian government and Google, with the former trying to force the search giant to pay to display local news stories in its results.
Last month, Mel Silva, the managing director of Google Australia and New Zealand, told an Australian Senate hearing the government’s proposals were unworkable, and would leave the company with “no real choice but to stop making Google search available in Australia.”
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Now communications minister Paul Fletcher has weighed in, telling ABC that Microsoft is “significantly interested” in the market opportunity a Google exit would provide.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
He added: “Look, ultimately, at the end of the day, if you want to do business in Australia, you need to comply with the laws of the sovereign government of Australia.”
How ready the Australian population is to embrace Bing remains to be seen. Microsoft’s search engine remains a distant second to Google in terms of popularity, with around 13% market share globally versus Google’s approximately 70%, per 2020 statistics from NetMarketShare.
Business Insider approached Microsoft and Google for comment.