Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave very strong statements about search capabilities on Facebook, saying that the massive user base can give the social-networking site an opportunity to provide results in search that can be very practical and useful. As Zuckerberg essentially put out the notice that Facebook is working on search to compete with Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOG), Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) and Bing from Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), it seems to have already made a small but significant step forward.
Late last week Facebook inc. (NASDAQ:FB) reported that it had added a small feature to its search tool, which is a personal search history, which allows users to review and/or delete their past searches.
This new step forward in developing a search platform to directly compete with search juggernaut Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) could be the start to developing an effective search alternative to Google, as the near-infinite store of social information about its 900-million-plus users helps Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) establish a fertile ground for answering pretty specific questions that searchers may want. The idea of very specific, personalized search is something that Zuckerberg alluded to when he spoke at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference last month:
“Search engines are really evolving … It’s not just like ‘I’ll type in something and show me some relevant stuff.’ It’s, ‘I have a specific question, answer this question for me.’ When you look at it from that perspective, Facebook is pretty uniquely positioned to answer the questions people have: ‘What sushi restaurants have my friends gone to in New York in the past six months and liked?’ ‘Which of my friends and friends of friends work at this company I’m interested in … so I can talk to them about what it’s like to work there?’”
Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) already sees the value of its immense social-information stores, and Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has recognized the evolution of search to more specificity by establishing its own social network, Google+. Google got search first and is building the specific data later, while Facebook has the data and is looking to build search from that. Google has a head start, but can Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) provide a competitive platform? Investors with long positions in Facebook – like hedge-fund manager Chase Coleman of Tiger Global Management LLC – will certainly be looking to see which way is more effective.