There are reports that new tech industry darling OpenAI is working on an AI-powered search engine they hope will overtake Google, but the company’s ballyhooed Monday announcement did not show anything that will have Google shaking in their shoes.

It’s probably no coincidence that on the very day before tomorrow’s big-deal annual Google I/O conference (which is no longer an in-person conference, and is only a set of livestreams), upstart rival and ChatGPT creator OpenAI would be scheduling some major announcement in hopes of overshadowing Google. This is typical one-upmanship in the budding rivalry between the goliath Google and the new investor favorite-son OpenAI.

And the tech press was licking its chops that OpenAI would be announcing their own search engine to rival Google, as Fox Business reported Monday morning. That outlet said that “OpenAI plans to announce its artificial intelligence-powered search product Monday, according to two sources familiar with the matter.”

But the two sources were wrong. Ars Technica had their own update, in which an OpenAI rep said, “Despite reports, we’re not launching a search product or GPT-5 on Monday."  

OpenAI did do a Monday announcement, which can be seen below (the first 59 minutes are just dead air, followed by a 25-minute presentation). And if they’re trying to be a “Google killer,” it seems kind of funny that they had to rely on Google-owned Youtube to broadcast the announcement.

The presentation is mostly OpenAI CTO Mira Murati announcing a “desktop version of ChatGPT,” and their “new flagship model” GPT4o. (It’s the letter “o” instead of the numeral “0.” Innovation, right?). There was nothing particularly new or impressive shown, but it was staged like the old Steve Jobs-type announcement, with the audience often going wild with applause as if Murati had just landed a quintuple axel.

But was the audience all just OpenAI employees, who knew exactly what was being announced, and their applause scripted? It did look like we saw the back of Sam Altman’s head in the front row, but we cannot be sure of this.

There was some demo of a conversation with a voice assistant, which does sound a little more human than Siri. Very creepily, Murati and a couple male employees asked the voice assistant to tell “a bedtime story about robots and love.” The voice assistant does iterate pretty well on conversational tone, and its wording less awkward than a lot of AI crap we see, but it did not actually complete the requested task of telling a story.

There was a demo of foreign language translation, which appeared to work successfully, but Google has already had this exact product for quite some time. The AI voice associate did a little algebra equation, and also gave some coding advice. But it did so quite inefficiently, and with a great deal of unnecessary, extemporaneous conversation.

But maybe extemporaneous conversation with a female voice is the whole point here, because the target OpenAI user is lacking such a thing in their lives?

Regardless, there is definitely something up with OpenAI’s prospective search engine. Some sharp-eyed developers out there have noticed that they’ve set up the URL Right now it’s just a blank page that says “Not found” in very tiny font. But as seen above, there’s clearly some pretty heavy coding going on behind the scenes on this project. And Ars Technica points out that OpenAI has been working with Microsoft on a hybrid search-engine/AI chatbot called “Bing Chat.”

But if I’m a Google developer or shareholder, I am not particularly shitting my pants at what OpenAI rolled out today. No matter how boring or redundant Google I/O’s main product announcement may be tomorrow, it’s easily bound to be meatier than OpenAI’s GPT4o announcement today.  

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Image: OpenAI via Youtube