We know that OpenAI (the company behind ChatGPT) is working on a pricing plan, and some users are reporting that they’ve been granted access to a pro tier that costs $42 a month. Fans of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” know this number well. In the book, the answer to the “Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything” is 42, which makes me wonder if the final pricing will be announced on May 25. More importantly, I have been wondering if ChatGPT is, in fact, a pseudonym for Deep Thought. (Apologies to non-Douglas Adams fans.)

Back in our universe… what would you pay for professional access to ChatGPT? Sans collusion or some other anti-competitive practice between owners of large language models, no matter the initial asking price, the price of the basic service will ultimately devolve into a commoditized race to the bottom (think cloud pricing). The “real” money will be made at the application layer, where experts create highly specialized training sets that add value to the basic services by offering focused super-productive tools.

One way to think about it is how YouTube created a $1.65 billion company (what Google paid for it in 2006) by building a user-friendly front end (application) over a B2B-oriented, hard to use (for normal people) Adobe Flash server. Can you think of an application you could create that would add value to ChatGPT? API access to GPT (the underlying technology) is available now. Go ahead: craft a prompt for ChatGPT that asks it to help you write a business plan for your idea, and let me know if the answer to your question is 42.

Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit shellypalmer.com.



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