Competition between Facebook and Google+ is heating up. According to Bloomberg Businessweek’s sources, Facebook has hired a former Google engineer named Lars Rasmussen to lead a team of two dozen engineers in an effort to improve Facebook’s search functionality.
The company is not allowed to discuss the details during the quiet period leading up to its IPO, but people close to the project said that the enhancements will make it easier for users to find photos, videos, status updates, and other content available on friends’ profiles and brand pages they have “liked.”
Google, which owns 67 percent of the search market in the U.S., has a clear advantage in being able to index sites from across the Web, while Facebook appears to be working internally with pages and profiles. Noted TheNextWeb‘s Drew Olanoff, “If the Internet was ‘flat’, meaning it wasn’t indexed at all, relying on people to find the content that might be relevant to you is like pissing in the wind. Basically, the experience is going to suck big time.”
When Google added a social layer to search with Google plus Your World, the idea was to give people searching for things like local restaurants the social validation of seeing what their friends have tried and liked as well as what the algorithm was able to dig up.
With 845 million members, Facebook would have a larger pool of social information than Google+, which just hit 90 million members at the end of January, and their “like” button has arguably more click appeal than Google’s +1.
Still, Facebook is primarily a forum for posting family photos, funny memes, and discussing hobbies and consumer goods. The depth and breadth of information found in Facebook’s network is probably not enough to topple Google’s search engine. But it might give plus Your World a run for its money.
The rumor about Facebook’s new search tool started with this image posted to Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page. To the right of the sign, there’s a laptop with the browser open to Facebook. If you squint, there is supposedly a long, white box that looks like a search bar.
Personally, I’m not seeing what they’re talking about here.