OpenAI pauses ChatGPT Plus sign-ups as it 'hits capacity'

If only there was an investor with a scalable cloud to hand...

Users ready to part with cold, hard cash for OpenAI's ChatGPT Plus service will no doubt be disappointed to learn that sign-ups are being paused following what's claimed to be a surge in demand.

The super-lab's CEO, Sam Altman, posted the notification on X, which followed rising interest after OpenAI's first development conference, OpenAI DevDay, in San Francisco on November 6.

The Register has asked OpenAI to confirm the CEO's policy and will update should the outfit respond.

OpenAI used its DevDay event to launch the GPT-4 Turbo model as well as to plug OpenAI's indemnification plan, Copyright Shield. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella appeared there to gush about the wonders of AI and talk about how it pertains to services such as Azure.

Things have not gone well for OpenAI's services in the days that followed its event. A significant outage was reported on November 8, initially attributed to the service's popularity, according to Altman, and later blamed on what looked like a DDoS attack.

ChatGPT Plus is a pilot subscription plan for users who are not patient enough to wait for ChatGPT to grind into life. It was launched in February this year for $20 per month and offered faster response times, priority access to new features, and general access to ChatGPT - even during peak times.

So it is unsurprising that users eager to get their hands on the new features unveiled by OpenAI at the DevDay event signed up in their droves - GPT-4, for example, is available exclusively to Plus users according to the ChatGPT website.

What is surprising is how quickly the service then buckled under the demand. If only OpenAI had a major investor with a cloud service. One that it claims can scale effortlessly to meet demand. What would that be like?

Snark aside, the timing of the capacity issue is unfortunate. The outages have marred some of the announcements at the dev day. Microsoft's Ignite event kicks off this week and is expected to feature AI heavily.

Microsoft and OpenAI

Microsoft famously invested substantially in OpenAI, estimated at $13 billion. However, its attempts to shoehorn AI technology into its Bing search engine have done nothing to move the needle on market share judging by Statcounter's latest figures, which show the service with a mere 9.14 percent share compared to Google's 83.53 per cent.

There are glimmers of hope if one focuses on the US, where Bing has clawed its way to 15.06 percent, but the search engine's also-ran status is difficult to avoid, despite it being sprinkled with generative AI dust.

However, there was some good news for the pair today from Germany's Bundeskartellamt, which confirmed the cooperation between Microsoft and OpenAI is not currently subject to merger control.

That said, Andreas Mundt, president of the Bundeskartellamt, warned: "We need to keep a very close eye on how the market develops and, in particular, on the extent to which the major players get involved in young, up-and-coming companies in this sector. If Microsoft were to increase its influence on OpenAI in the future, we would have to re-examine whether the companies are subject to notification under merger control." ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like