I swear if I hear one more person telling me that Facebook is going to “beat Google,” I’m going to punch a baby. I will go out and find a baby and I will punch it. Because I’m just so sick of everyone going with the misguided notion that Facebook and Google are in the same industry. Even if we’re talking about “online advertising,” we’re talking entirely divided channels for those ads. In the exact same way that diverse programming draws the same user to multiple TV channels for different shows, these sites draw the same user for entirely different functions.
But there’s another theory on how Facebook threatens the search giant, and it’s got a little more weight to it: Facebook could start a search engine. And could they? Yes. They have a lot of income, they have a strong user base, their brand is powerful, and – absolutely most importantly here – Facebook enjoys highly privileged access to the popularity of pages, social connections, and other social data.
But Facebook will not start a search engine (and, I’m glad to say, I’ve got Matt Rosoff of SF Gate on my side for this one). Here are some simple reasons why:
- Cost. Facebook is running off a very low overhead, considering their scale. To index, keep up with, and understand the web in the way Google or Bing do would require an immense budget.
- Partnerships. Facebook enjoys a great position of power when it comes to social data. It doesn’t need to build a search engine to use that information for search. Thanks to their deal with Microsoft and the fact that Google is courting them for similar deals, Facebook can get a lot of the benefit without any of the setup.
- Competition. Let’s say does start a search site. What next? Facebook’s access to social data would be a great resource, and it would starve out other search sites to a limited degree. But Google is going to come up with its own social options – many of which are already underway. The competition would have more of a head start on mirroring Facebook features than Facebook does on mirroring theirs.
There are other reasons, but these three factors are enough. So, please, love Facebook and even tell me that it’s starting to make portions of search irrelevant – but don’t pretend that it will somehow consume Google.