Can new GPT store spur generative AI monetization?

It’s no big deal to visit the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) app store, Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Google Play or Microsoft Corp.’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) store. 

ChatGPT operator OpenAI, of which Microsoft owns a 49% stake, is planning to put a new spin on that process. 

In the announcement of the new store, OpenAI said the new customized apps were dubbed GPTs. 

According to OpenAI, “Anyone can easily build their own GPT—no coding is required. You can make them for yourself, just for your company’s internal use, or for everyone.”

In essence, the company is attempting to make creating these customizations as easy as generating ChatGPT commands. 

OpenAI announced the new features recently at its first developers' day. The move indicates a more open-source-like approach to AI apps, also taking a page from Apple and Google’s books, as the company opens up innovation to. 

Tools to enable amazing things

“We believe if you give people the tools, they will do amazing things,” said OpenAI founder and CEO Sam Altman during the announcement.

In the blog post describing the GPT business plan, OpenAI said, “Once in the store, GPTs become searchable and may climb the leaderboards.”

The company added, “We will also spotlight the most useful and delightful GPTs we come across in categories like productivity, education, and ‘just for fun.’ ” 

In the coming months, GPT creators will be able to earn money based on how many people are using their content.

OpenAI, and investors including Microsoft and a number of large venture capital firms, are seeking ways of monetizing the service. ChatGPT’s basic service is free, but it offers a $20 per month “plus” service that offers access to additional tools, as well as the ability to browse, create and use the GPTs. 

There was a frenzy of attention on OpenAI about a year ago, but that has subsided even as numerous technology stocks like Nvidia Corp. (NASDAQ: NVDA) rose in 2023 on the promise of AI. 

OpenAI based on Microsoft, Nvidia technologies

OpenAI developed its technologies using a Microsoft supercomputer and more than 10,000 Nvidia graphics processing units.

It’s too early to know whether customized AI models will be the revenue generator that OpenAI and its investors hope. However, OpenAI may have some advantage over other products such as Google’s Bard, as it was early to market and got a great deal of attention. 

Usage fell in June, July and August, but rose again in September. Some pundits had theorized that usage fell in the summer months as high schools and colleges were out of session; the September uptick suggests that may indeed be the case. 

So far, Microsoft won’t say how or when it expects to get revenue from generative AI, although it, like many other companies, is already getting the benefits from AI and machine learning in its cloud software offerings.

Growing number of Azure AI customers

In the most recent earnings call, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella addressed Azure AI, part of Microsoft's Azure cloud computing service, which offers a range of AI tools and services. Those include machine learning, natural language processing, and computer vision, which refers to interpreting images using computing power. 

Azure AI allows developers and enterprise customers to build, deploy, and manage AI applications and solutions in the cloud.

Nadella said more than 18,000 organizations now use Azure OpenAI service, including new-to-Azure customers. He added that digital companies are using OpenAI to power their AI solutions, making them Azure customers as well.

Alphabet also in the AI quest

Meanwhile, Alphabet is also pursuing the monetization of generative AI.

In its most recent earnings conference call, CEO Sundar Pichai said, “Our product momentum continued this quarter, as you saw with Cloud Next, Made on YouTube and Made by Google. It's all part of our focus on making AI more helpful for everyone, and we are making good progress across the four areas that we shared last quarter.”

Pichai said the company is experimenting with bringing generative AI capabilities into search. Whether or not that can increase search revenue remains to be seen. 

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