March 23, 2023

ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence-powered text tool that can spit out cogent answers to virtually any query in seconds, is acquiring new users faster than the most popular consumer apps created to date.

The chatbot launched for public use only in December but has already amassed 57 million monthly active users in its first month of availability. It is expected to have surpassed 100 million monthly active users in January, according to new research from investment bank UBS. 

By comparison, it took social media app TikTok roughly nine months after its launch to build the same user base, and roughly two and a half years for Instagram to acquire 100 million monthly active users. Google Translate took six and a half years to reach that milestone.

“This is the fastest consumer application I have seen to hit 100 million monthly active users in my career covering this space,” UBS equities analyst Lloyd Walmsley told CBS MoneyWatch. “The ramp has been extraordinary.”

“A little bit frightening”

Indeed, students and professionals of all stripes are eagerly testing the ChatGPT’s capabilities. It can write essays and generate a range of documents, while corporate leaders even report using the tool for strategic brainstorming

At the same time, the breakthrough technology’s surging popularity is raising concerns around the types of workers it could replace as more people use so-called generative AI to write computer code, summarize text and perform other tasks done by humans today.

“There is an element that’s a little bit frightening in the sense of the capabilities of this and what the implications might be for lower skill-level knowledge workers,” Walmsley said.

Walmsley himself said he already relies on the tool to help conduct AI-related research. 

Currently, ChatGPT averages 13 million unique visitors a day, according to UBS. But its growth could taper over the next few months if the hype subsides.

“The next question is obviously what its staying power will be. There may be an element of people just coming to look,” Walmsley said.

$1 trillion market

The projected rollout of similar advanced tools from deep-pocketed competitors like Google could also detract from ChatGPT’s explosive popularity. But because Google has a large incumbent business to protect, it risks damaging its reputation if its own AI-powered chatbot generates content that is inaccurate, or worse, offensive. 

“The question is, how much do they expose to the public and how fast do they do it?” Walmsley said. 

ChatGPT is free to use — for now. The company behind the tool, OpenAI, is testing a $20 monthly subscription for access to a pro version of the app, called “ChatGPT Plus,” that provides users faster responses and priority access to the site when it is overloaded with visitors. OpenAI also plans to continue to offer a free version to the public, the company said. 


ChatGPT: Grading artificial intelligence’s writing

08:02

UBS analysts value the market for generative AI at $1 trillion. 

“There are more than 1 billion knowledge workers, so given the potential for this to even have utility beyond knowledge workers, it’s not crazy to think it could indeed be that large,” Walmsley said. 

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