This week’s news of Microsoft’s plan to add ChatGPT-like capabilities to its search engine Bing sent its companion mobile app to the App Store’s Top Charts starting Wednesday. In the US App Store, the Bing app has risen to number 12 of all free iPhone apps, while Microsoft’s Edge browser is now the number 3 Utility app. Globally, the Bing app has seen a 10x increase in new downloads, according to preliminary estimates from app intelligence firm data.ai.
The move indicates strong consumer demand for these new AI experiences, and users may even be willing to try new search engines and other browsers to access them.
On Tuesday, Microsoft first showed off the new Bing.com with the long-awaited integration of a new, next-generation OpenAI large-scale language model. The update adds a ChatGPT-like experience within the search engine itself, allowing users to converse with an AI chatbot for help with more complex questions and to assist with certain content creation tasks, such as writing a LinkedIn post. Microsoft also demonstrated a new version of its Edge web browser with the same AI features built into the sidebar for easy access.
But while the new version that Bing has technically launched now, it’s still in a limited preview for now.
Users who want to try out the new AI features must first join a waiting list. Microsoft said “millions” of users will be invited off the waiting list in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, the company has cleverly introduced a way to move up the waiting list. On a landing page, Microsoft suggests that users can access the new Bing faster if they take a few extra steps. This includes setting Microsoft’s search as the default on their PC and scanning a QR code to install the Microsoft Bing app on their smartphone.
The latter has clearly inspired the app’s meteoric rise in the App Store charts – and it’s been a dramatic rise.
Ahead of Microsoft’s AI news, Bing was by no means a popular app. For example, as of last week, the app was number 160 in the U.S. App Store’s list of productivity apps — in other words, practically invisible. It didn’t make the US App Store’s Top Overall Charts at all. In less than a week, it is approaching the top 10 in the US, as is the number 2 Productivity app, at the time of writing.
Were it not for consumer demand, Bing’s app wouldn’t have significantly changed this, despite pressure from Microsoft to download it.
Of course, it’s worth pointing out that the App Store’s charts are susceptible to manipulation by a stream of new downloads in a compressed period. That’s why TikTok marketing that makes apps go “viral” has become so effective. Still, the Bing app move is an interesting signal that demonstrates both the demand for AI and the potential threat to Google.
Google already pays Apple billions a year to become the default search engine in Safari. But if a large number of consumers switch to another web search app like Bing or Edge to try out the new AI capabilities, Google could lose market share on one of the largest platforms consumers use to browse the web.
It’s also possible that some of the new Bing app users think they have access to the mobile app’s AI features. To be clear: that is not yet the case. And while the app was recently updated, Microsoft makes no promises about using AI from this native iOS experience in Bing’s App Store description.
In addition to downloading Bing as requested by Microsoft’s website, some users may have also downloaded Microsoft’s Edge browser on their iPhone. While the Edge app hasn’t moved up the charts as quickly as Bing, it’s now ranked No. 3 on the US App Store’s Top Charts for Utilities, up slightly from the No. 7 position it held on Monday.
More specific figures on the total number of new installations may become available in the coming weeks. If so, we’ll update with those numbers.