ChatGPT usage drops for the first time: Learn why

Kerem Gülen
Jul 10, 2023

OpenAI's ChatGPT has been a game-changer in the tech sphere since its introduction last year. It sparked the much talked about "AI revolution," paved the way for countless new enterprises, and witnessed an exponential growth across the globe. But it seems, the ChatGPT usage honeymoon period is now taking a bit of a pause.

According to The Washington Post, there's been a slight but significant dip in the user numbers of ChatGPT for the first time ever. In June, both mobile and desktop traffic to the bot's website saw a nearly 10% decline globally. The app's downloads on iPhone also saw a decrease. There's no concrete explanation why ChatGPT usage is experiencing such a downturn in user engagement, but speculations are plentiful.

This revelation mainly comes from Similarweb's data, a firm renowned for web analytics and market intelligence. Their analysis traces the trajectory of the explosive web traffic following the launch of ChatGPT in November of the previous year, leading to a rapid increase in engagement. However, a noticeable slowdown occurred in March, followed by a slump in May. The report also draws attention to a dip in visitor engagement on the ChatGPT website, suggesting that even those who visit the site are spending less time there. A parallel can be drawn to another AI chatbot, Character.AI, which also experienced a drop in engagement levels in June.

It raises a question whether the initial fervor over conversational AI chatbots is waning. As per Similarweb's data, ChatGPT website's global desktop and mobile web traffic dropped by 9.7% from May to June, and in the U.S, this decrease was slightly higher at 10.3%. This decline was noted for the first time on a month-to-month basis. Sensor Tower's observation, which noted that downloads of the ChatGPT's iOS client dipped in June after reaching a peak earlier in the month, complements this data.

Image courtesy of Similarweb

Furthermore, Similarweb's data corroborated the fading interest in ChatGPT. From May to June, unique global visitors to the ChatGPT website reduced by 5.7%, and the duration spent on the website saw an 8.5% decrease. The traffic for Bing's desktop and mobile websites, both of which include ChatGPT, saw a surge between February and March, but this traffic has been on a decline since April.

Even with the dip in ChatGPT usage, OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, seems to be weathering the storm quite well, despite the hefty estimated daily cost of $700,000 to keep the website up and running. According to Similarweb, the ChatGPT website essentially acts as a loss leader, generating sales leads for OpenAI, which then licenses its technology for use in other applications. Revenue primarily flows from the subscribers of the OpenAI site who seek the latest version of ChatGPT.

Image courtesy of Similarweb

Presently, subscribers to OpenAI have access to the latest GPT-4 version, whereas the free users can utilize an earlier version. Even though OpenAI's site isn't ad-driven, the subscription model they utilize isn't exactly a goldmine since Microsoft's Bing offers GPT-4 version of OpenAI for free. Microsoft is a key investor in ChatGPT.

The reasons behind the drop in ChatGPT usage remain speculative. Is it the often bizarre outputs from AI, or the nebulous legal complexities surrounding AI-generated content? Or, perhaps, people are just losing interest in conversing with computers? While there's no definitive answer, Similarweb speculates that the initial "novelty [of AI] has worn off." Another possibility suggested by the Post is the onset of summer break for college students who were previously using the app for educational assistance, leading to an overall reduction in engagement.


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