According to a recent Businessweek report, Facebook may be rolling out a new search engine feature in order to cultivate revenue sources as it goes public. The social network giant hasn’t thus far made search a priority: ComScore data from the month of February indicates Facebook searches (336 million) trail lightyears behind leading search engines—Google (17,628M), Yahoo! (2,911M), and Microsoft (2,771M).
Facebook is already working to improve its existing search capability, with the intention of helping users better sift through the volume of information offered on its site: status updates, articles, videos, etc. However, doing so, according to reporter Douglas MacMillian and senior writer Brad Stone, is largely a matter of necessity; Facebook’s general Web search results (i.e., obscure content, unrelated banner ads) are “crude” at best. This could be one of the reasons why Web pundits speculate CEO Mark Zuckerberg is taking the next big step.
“Search is the best form of monetization on the Web by far, and [Facebook is] leaving that on the table,” says Doug Leeds, chief executive office of search engine Ask.com. “From a business perspective, you have to think about going into search.” But, for Facebook, it may not be that easy: Google currently controls 67 percent of the search market in the U.S. and has sophisticated technology to track a trillion Web pages, report MacMillion and Stone. Facebook, on the other hand, offers only a fraction of information, mostly material that is new, to its users.
Whether Facebook will go up against industry giant Google in the search engine sphere, right now, remains a question mark. What’s clear is that, come May, when the company is expected to go public, users will experience an improved search capability when they log into the social network.