Facebook just passed the 900 million user marker and year-on-year revenue nearly doubled, the company said, soaring to $3.7 billion over the whole of 2011. Their IPO in May is expected to generate $5 billion for the social media giant. And now the news is that a recently hired a former Google engineer is leading a team dedicated to creating a better Facebook search engine (which currently blows) that will make it easier to find shared or liked stuff such as articles, videos or status updates.
On one hand do we really need to find the post from 2011 about the recital, recipe, dog antics or beef about customer service? Maybe not, but the potential mining of current and relevant search results could put the web on its ear.
Business Insider cites a publication from an entity calling itself Anonymous (can’t these guys come up with better names? You can call me NetSuperNinjaGaga) making a case that a Facebook search engine would result in a minimization of Google within five years.
Add to this the coop between Facebook and Bing, Microsoft’s own search engine and you may have a case. The combination would combine Bings “Google-class algorithm based search engine” with Facebook’s social search engine to produce a search product that will cross the 50% threshold for search market share. All this from our pal Anonymous.
This threat to Google is potentially real as the huge buckets of information that users have heartily volunteered to Facebook includes their tastes and friend connections, current shopping habits and most importantly their “likes” could turn it into a serious rival for online advertising dollars. When a Facebook user sees a brand ad that a friend has “liked” that user is 300% more likely to recall that brand later. That’s fantabulous, as our friend Anonymous might say. Or maybe not.
This news doesn’t seem to indicate that Facebook has any intention of becoming your go-to search engine for all things internet but rather an inward pointing search tool concentrating on users movings about that advertisers will go for like Charlie Sheen to a loose girl. But this could be enough to shake Google’s tree enough to add to Facebook’s further dominance.
Oh and we haven’t even said the word “mobile”. Nearly half of Facebook’s users are on the site via a mobile device. According to web maven Mary Meeker by the middle of next year more people will access the internet on a mobile device than on desktops. Facebook’s current mobile app isn’t fun at all so if they plan to monetize their internal search they’d better figure out how to improve that in a hurry.