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Microsoft is determined to play ball with the Australian Government as they eye a potential growth spurt that would come with Google‘s departure.
Microsoft-owned Bing could become Australia’s primary search engine if Google makes good on its threat of leaving, the result of the technology giant clashing with the Morrison Government’s proposed media bargaining code. The code would ensure that Google and Facebook pay news outlets for their content.
Microsoft, seeing the probability of taking Google’s 94% market share in Australia, are saying they are willing to do so.
“I can tell you, Microsoft’s pretty confident,” Mr Morrison told reporters earlier this week. And now, Microsoft has made their support of the code and their readiness to move up in the market official.
“Microsoft fully supports the News Media Bargaining Code,” President Brad Smith said in a statement.
“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.”
Smith said that while Microsoft was not currently subject to the code, the company would “be willing to live by these rules if the government designates us.”
Microsoft has also begun the process of appealing to businesses that may feel daunted by Google’s departure.
“Microsoft will ensure that small businesses who wish to transfer their advertising to Bing can do so simply and with no transfer costs,” Smith assured.
“We recognise the important role search advertising plays to the more than two million small businesses in Australia.”
Smith’s statement follows confirmation by the Government of Microsoft’s interest earlier this week. Talking to ABC TV on Monday, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said a meeting with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella confirmed “they’re interested in developing the presence of Bing here.”
“What we can expect is if Google were to leave, and that’s a matter for them, we’re not encouraging that … if they were to leave there are other market participants. It will be an attractive market opportunity,” Fletcher said.
It’s clear that Microsoft is taking a big swing to rise up in Australia – and they sure seem happy to send a jab or two Google’s way as they make moves.
“One thing is clear: while other tech companies may sometimes threaten to leave Australia, Microsoft will never make such a threat,” Smith said in conclusion.
“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.”