Microsoft offers a hand if Google exits Australia

Microsoft offers a hand if Google exits Australia

As Prime Minister Scott Morrison reportedly meets with the head of Google to discuss Australia's media bargaining code, another tech giant Microsoft has pledged to support small businesses who may be affected if the world's leading search engine is no longer available within our shores.

The Australian Government is attempting to make Google pay news organisations for linking their content, with the US-based multinational threatening to pull its search engine here in response.

Microsoft, which unlike Google makes most of its revenue from software and services rather than advertising, has announced its commitment to the Australian market with its alternative search engine Bing.

Last week, Microsoft president Brad Smith and CEO Satya Nadella spoke with the PM and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher about ways to address the current bargaining power imbalance between digital platforms and Australian news businesses.

In a statement released yesterday, Smith said Microsoft would never threaten to leave Australia like Google has.

"We appreciate what Australia has long meant for Microsoft's growth as a company, and we are committed to supporting the country's national security and economic success," Smith said.

He explained the following points were raised with the Australian Government representatives:

  • Microsoft is committed to Australia and the news publishers that are vital to the country's democracy.
  • Microsoft recognises that the media sector and public interest journalism currently face many challenges from the digital era, including changing business models and evolving consumer preferences. That is why Microsoft has long supported the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) efforts to analyse these issues and propose world-first solutions.
  • Microsoft fully supports the News Media Bargaining Code. The code reasonably attempts to address the bargaining power imbalance between digital platforms and Australian news businesses. It also recognises the important role search plays, not only to consumers but to the thousands of Australian small businesses that rely on search and advertising technology to fund and support their organisations. While Microsoft is not subject to the legislation currently pending, we'd be willing to live by these rules if the government designates us.
  • Microsoft will ensure that small businesses who wish to transfer their advertising to Bing can do so simply and with no transfer costs. We recognise the important role search advertising plays to the more than two million small businesses in Australia.
  • We will invest further to ensure Bing is comparable to our competitors and we remind people that they can help, with every search Bing gets better at finding what you are looking for.
  • We believe that the current legislative proposal represents a fundamental step towards a more level playing field and a fairer digital ecosystem for consumers, business, and society.
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