Facebook’s 10-year plan involves taking on the world’s largest (and most successful) search engine.

Clash of the titans, or a one-horse race?

Clash of the titans, or a one-horse race?

You heard correctly. In Facebook‘s Q4 2013 Earnings Conference Call (the transcript of which can be read here), Mark Zuckerberg outlined their plans to expand Facebook’s remit to include a comprehensive search function, one that would rival Google – the search engine that’s practically singlehandedly ruling the internet.

In his speech, he outlined 3 key areas that, he believes, would drive the success of this venture. These being:

  • Facebook has a bigger “index” of data on hand than any other search engine.
  • Facebook’s artificial intelligence unit is working to make that data available through Graph Search, Facebook’s search engine.
  • The final product will be rolled out on mobile devices so that people can ask Facebook for advice and solve their problems using voice recognition on their phones.

He’s anticipated that the final product will be rolled out over the next decade.

The idea was revealed after Zuckerberg was asked about Facebook’s Graph Search function (which hasn’t been particularly well-received, mostly due to the fact it’s not particularly easy to use).

His actual response was:

“So the first release [of Graph Search] indexed more than a trillion connections between all the people and interests and events and groups and things that everyone was connected to. The second release that we did recently was around all the updates. So there are more than a trillion status updates and unstructured text posts and photos and pieces of content that people have shared over the past 10 years, and indexing that was a really big deal, because as the number of people on the team who have worked on web search engines in the past have told me, a trillion pieces of content is more than the index in any web search engine.”

As you can see, a lot of it is open to interpretation – is Zuckerberg purposefully trash-talking Google’s “key-word only” results; what is he actually including when he refers to the “index” (if he’s including actual web pages, then Google might feel that THEY have the larger index)?

It’s a huge vision. Although, judging by Facebook’s stratospheric success in the past and the fact they are funding the introduction of reliable internet connections in the developing world, it’s pretty in line with how the Facebook team plan things. Think big.

But, how successful will it be, for Facebook to take on Google? There’s no doubt Google will have their own expansion plans, in order to retain their place at the top of the search engine charts. But, while they further mine the realms of ranking and internet “quality control”, will that leave a gap in the market for a more intuitive and holistic search function? Only time will tell.

Watch this space!

 

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