In 1967, Texas Instruments (TXN) created the first handheld electronic calculator and changed the way that mathematicians crunch numbers. In 2022, OpenAI introduced ChatGPT and might have done the same for writers, engineers, and dozens of other professions.
ChatGPT, the buzzy AI chatbot backed by Microsoft (MSFT), is the result of a decade of research. It’s so powerful that it could disrupt some of the internet’s most established features, such as search engines or email. The chatbot has been free since it launched last November. Now, OpenAI is testing the waters with a paid plan: ChatGPT Plus.
For $20 per month, ChatGPT Plus offers users 24/7 access to the tool, faster responses to queries, and first access to new features. ChatGPT has been so wildly popular that it often gets overwhelmed with queries. With the Plus plan, OpenAI can prioritize its most loyal users and make sure service never goes down for them.
The free version of ChatGPT will remain available, but only to a limited number of users during high-demand peak hours. OpenAI will test its premium plan with US users and begin rollout in the coming weeks. It plans to eventually expand the service to other countries.
Recouping the Cost
For OpenAI’s monetization model, ChatGPT Plus is likely just the tip of the iceberg. The tool is incredibly expensive to run, and that doesn’t even include the money spent over the past decade to build it.
OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman stated the company spends “single-digit cents” whenever it responds to a query. When processing millions of queries per day, cents add up. The new subscription service is a way for the company to offset its costs while it continues to fine-tune the tool and incorporate feedback from the testing phase.
With that in mind, before you shell out $20, consider that ChatGPT remains imperfect in its current state. If you use ChatGPT for work or fun, you may want to double-check its outputs — even if you’re paying the premium.
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