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Google Renames Its Forgettable AI in Fight to Stay Relevant

Island of Lost Bots

Google's AI chatbot, Bard, has officially been sent upstate, to the Big Tech sunsetted product farm.

Just a few short months after rival OpenAI's ChatGPT was released into public hands — reportedly prompting a "code red" to be issued within a nonplussed Google — Bard launched in early 2023.

The two competing chatbots are effectively the same thing. But while they might be comparable in ability, ChatGPT handily has more name recognition among the public than Bard ever did. Now, less than a year after Bard's release, Google appears determined to change that.

As of today, Google has rebranded its AI product suite — Bard included — under one name: Gemini, the name of the advanced large language model (LLM) that powers the search giant's generative AI ambitions.

"Our mission with Bard has always been to give you direct access to our AI models, and Gemini represents our most capable family of models," Google Vice President and Gemini general manager Sissie Hsiao stated in a company blog post, published earlier today. "To reflect this, Bard will now simply be known as Gemini."

RIP

In addition to the name alteration, Google made another big — and directly competitive — change to Bard: it introduced a payment tier. Users can now cough up $19.99 each month to access "Gemini Advanced," a version of the chatbot powered by Ultra 1.0, described by Google in a blog post as the "largest and most capable" Gemini model. If that sounds familiar, it's because OpenAI offers a similar, $20-per-month payment tier granting customers access to OpenAI's most advanced LLM, GPT-4.

Another notable change amid the brand overhaul: Google's decision to absorb "Duet AI" — a workplace AI assistant designed to compete with Microsoft's impressive AI "Copilot" tool — under the Gemini umbrella. Setting aside the fact that Gemini also happens to be the name of the Winklevii Twins' embattled crypto trading platform, rebranding everything under Gemini feels like a smart move. As The Verge points out, Google has a notorious habit of giving its products extremely confusing names. If it hopes to streamline its AI tools to encourage public adoption and brand awareness, a sleek catch-all invoking the powerful underlying AI model is a far better strategy.

Even so, it's painfully apparent that Google is still playing catch-up — maybe not on the technological side, but certainly in cultural cachet. And that's something requiring a little more than a rebrand to fix.

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