July 13, 2024
Elon Musk says xAI's chatbot 'Grok' will launch to X Premium+ subscribers next week

Following Elon Musk’s xAI’s move to open source its Grok large language model earlier in March, the X owner on Tuesday said that the company formerly known as Twitter will soon offer the Grok chatbot to more paying subscribers. In a post on X, Musk announced Grok will become available to Premium subscribers this week, not just those on the higher-end tier, Premium+, as before.

The move could signal a desire to compete more directly with other popular chatbots, like OpenAI’s ChatGPT or Anthropic’s Claude. But it could also be an indication that X is trying to bump up its subscriber figures. The news arrives at a time when data indicates that fewer people are using the X platform, and it’s struggling to retain those who are. According to recent data from Sensor Tower, reported by NBC News, X usage in the U.S. was down 18% year-over-year as of February, and down 23% since Musk’s acquisition.

Musk’s war on advertisers may have also hurt the company’s revenue prospects, as Sensor Tower found that 75 out of the top 100 U.S. advertisers on X from October 2022 no longer spent ad budget on the platform.

Offering access to an AI chatbot could potentially prevent X users from fleeing to other platforms — like decentralized platforms Mastodon and Bluesky, or Instagram’s Threads, which rapidly gained traction thanks to Meta’s resources to reach over 130 million monthly users as of the fourth quarter 2023.

Musk didn’t say when Grok would become available to X users, only that it “would be enabled” for all Premium subscribers sometime “later this week.”

X Premium is the company’s mid-tier subscription starting at $8 per month (on the web) or $84 per year. Previously, Grok was only available to Premium+ subscribers, at $16 per month or a hefty $168 per year.

Grok’s chatbot may appeal to Musk’s followers and heavy X users as it will respond to questions about topics that are typically off-limits to other AI chatbots, like conspiracies or more controversial political ideas. It will also answer questions with “a rebellious streak,” as Musk has described it. Most notably, Grok has the ability to access real-time X data — something rivals can’t offer.

Of course, the value of that data under Musk’s reign may be diminishing if X is losing users.

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