It has been a discussion for ages: will Facebook ever go into search. And if they do, will they be the long awaited Google killer? Can they beat Google at their own game?
Many didn’t even expect Facebook to go into search anymore, after all, why didn’t they do it before? Yesterday at the TechCrunch’s Disrupt conference in San Francisco Mark Zuckerberg told the audience in his first interview since the failed IPO “At some point, we’ll do it”.
When asked about search by interviewer Mike Arrington Zuckerberg smiled and said “You know, search is interesting.” He then noted Facebook is doing already a billion searches per day, “and we’re not even trying”, he added to that.
Opportunities in search for Facebook
Zuckerberg sees a big opportunity for Facebook when it comes to search, but maybe not directly in a Google like way. He notes that most searches are about people looking for people. But there is also a big number of searches which are aimed at finding brands or apps.
Zuckerberg mentioned the search engines as we know them, Google, Bing and he even mentioned Yahoo, as doing some sort of ‘magic’. He acknowledges that they are evolving and are much more giving answers than returning lists based on keywords.
He believes Facebook has a unique position exactly on that point. Facebook has personal information. What do friends think about a specific restaurant, did they like it? It is the human factor they could add to the search results.
Chuckling a bit he said: “At some point, we’ll do it“.
That chuckling might have been nerves that came up realising he said something he shouldn’t have. Because when Arrington asked if there was a team working on it Zuckerberg said yes, but immediately started to ‘downplay’ what he just said. Saying that it would be something interesting for the future.
Watch the part about search in this video:
So are they going into search?
The question now remains: is Facebook really going into search? Are they really going to try and beat Google at their own game? Based on what Zuckerberg said it is still vague, but it sure seems as if Facebook has plans in that direction. However, what Zuckerberg described as being the ‘unique position’ for Facebook is exactly what Google is trying to do with Google+ and is something which Bing is currently doing with Facebook’s own data (and that of others).
Besides that there is another ‘problem’ for Facebook if they want to compete with the ‘actual’ search engines. They may have the personal data, they don’t have all the other (site related) data, yet. If the like-button would be able to not just count likes, but index a page for example, there would be an interesting opportunity for Facebook. As far as I know however, the like button doesn’t do that at this point.
So if Facebook wants to become a real competitor in the search industry they should both hurry up and have a lot of work to do.
But search, as Zuckerberg said, is evolving. And there might be room for more types of search engines. And there is no reason why Facebook could not be a ‘social search engine’. Time will tell. We are interested in knowing your opinion on this as well, so leave a comment with your view or head over to our Facebook page and join the discussion there!
The talk Mark Zuckerberg had with Mike Arrington on stage of TechCrunch Disrupt had many different topics in it. Off course there was the falling stock, there was talk about mobile and in between the lines search came up. If you want a full description of the talk head over to Marketingland where Danny Sullivan wrote up a live blog. Find below also the start of the interview where Zuckerberg talks about the IPO and hints at how important mobile is for Facebook.
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