Earlier this month, OpenAI said it was exploring ways to monetize its AI chatbot ChatGPT, giving users the option to sign up for early access to “ChatGPT Professional.” Now some users say they have gained access to a pro tier that costs $42 per month.
OpenAI has not confirmed that this is an official test or made any announcements. We’ve reached out to the company for more details, but in the meantime, keep those features in mind and prices may change before ChatGPT Professional actually launches. As OpenAI said earlier this month, “Please note that this is an early experimental program that is subject to change and we are not making paid pro access generally available at this time.”
With that in mind, what does $42 a month get you? According to screenshots shared by early access users, you get faster response speed, more reliable access (because ChatGPT is down a lot), and “priority access to new features” (which they turn out to be).
Zahid Khawaja, a developer working on a number of AI projects, shared a video of the pro tier that works on both desktop and mobile (as well as a screenshot of his payment to OpenAI as proof). As Khawaja points out, the system is definitely more responsive than the free version.
The thornier question, however, is cost. On the official ChatGPT Discord, many users expressed their anger and disappointment at the $42 price tag.
“If it made me money I could justify the 42/month, but in my country it’s a good percentage of the minimum wage,” said one user.
“I really wanted to pay for a subscription, but $42 is just too much,” said another.
“42 USD is not too much for peeps who are heavy users and want to become ‘superhuman’ with the help of AI. However, it will be too much for too much,” said another.
As the last commenter points out, it’s clear that users’ judgments about each price depend on their need for the service. There are plenty of anecdotal accounts of people using ChatGPT to speed up their work, and for these individuals, $42 per month is probably a reasonable outlay, just like any other software subscription. However, casual users will have to hope that the free tier sticks around and maintains feature parity (more or less) with the professional version. In the end, even a small fee will be an effective filter to see how useful ChatGPT really is, and given the lack of similar services, $42 is probably OpenAI’s first attempt at speculative pricing – and a nerdy joke.
It is also worth remembering that the market for AI chatbots is going to explode this year. Not only are there rival systems in development (such as Claude, built by former OpenAI staffers but currently only available in closed beta), but OpenAI’s chosen big-tech big-brother Microsoft plans to integrate ChatGPT into both Bing as its office suite, while Google is reportedly rushing to showcase its own chat-enhanced search product later this year. ChatGPT has caught the interest of early adopters, but will soon have a lot of competition.