Microsoft has waded into the increasingly tense stand-off between the Australian government and Google and Facebook over plans to allow news outlets to bargain collectively over money for the use of their content by the tech giants.

The background

Facebook has said it will prioritise other markets if the government’s proposed News Bargaining Code comes into force. Google has gone further, threatening to quit the country altogether. But in the latest skirmish in the war of words, it appears the government may have some new ammunition.

  • Microsoft has announced publicly it’s ready to fill the huge gap that will be left if Google does indeed withdraw from Australia. Microsoft’s profits have surged during the pandemic, including in Australia, where 2020 revenue rose 41% on the previous year.
  • Currently, Microsoft would not be captured by the draft legislation, as it only applies to Google and Facebook, but says it would “be willing to live by these rules if the government designates us”.
  • Meanwhile, research by an Australian university has found anyone looking for professional news sites might well be better off using one of Google’s competitors anyway. Bing led the way, beating Google hands down in returning links to professional news sites. Google was also beaten by the social enterprise search engine Ecosia.

Key takeaway

Microsoft’s Bing search platform barely registers in Australia: according to Nielsen, Google currently captures over 95% of the search market there; the remaining 5% is picked up by a range of other search engines, including Bing.

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Sourced from Mumbrella