Billionaire entreprenuer Mark Zuckerberg has finally started giving some strong hints and an announcement about the real Google killer: an eventual Facebook (FB) search engine. According to Zuckerberg, per TechCrunch:
We're basically doing 1 billion queries a day and we're not even trying... Facebook is pretty uniquely positioned to answer the questions people have. At some point we'll do it. We have a team working on it.
This is probably the biggest "finally!" moment in the last few years for Internet search, because the idea of a Facebook search engine to go head-to-head against Google has simply been a no-brainer.
As Zuckerberg already said, they get a billion or so queries per day just with the absurdly low-quality search function that already exists with their browser.
Why This Is A Broadside Volley On Google
...I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this.
The clash between Facebook and Google has already been felt, with Google Plus as the alternative to Facebook. Many were predicting the "end" of Facebook with Google, but of course, that never developed. Now it's time for Facebook to fire back.
Google's Search Results Aren't What They Used To Be
Google is famous because of extremely relevant, "exactly what I was looking for" results. Those have been hit dramatically over the last several years with its Panda and Penguin updates. Now searchers will struggle to find anything from the past -- "news" stories essentially dominate results, making specific searches more difficult.
Google has also started shifting long-tail keywords to more generic results, to "fight" the small-time webmasters who were building websites targeting long-tail fruit in the way of keywords.
I'm not the only one who believes this. Articles critical of the "new" Google have popped up at WebProNews.com, SearchEngineLand.com, and others. Microsoft's (MSFT) Bing is basically a legit search engine that gets results that are just as high quality as Google now. That's a huge lack of technological advantage -- at this point, Google's "winning" by sheer force and brand power. Which, by the way, is something Facebook can fight it with.
Facebook Is In A Wonderful Position
People already use Facebook. Not everyone, but enough to go from 0-to-60 in almost no time. And Facebook doesn't have to kill Google all at once -- just enough that Facebook makes a lot of money it wouldn't otherwise make. The Google slaying will just be a possible consequence, not necessarily "the" goal.
Either way, Facebook has a lot of positioning help to get started:
Instant Users: It starts with multiple billions of users.
Social Variables: It starts with the ability of already knowing which content is popular to users who have read it. This is something Facebook has been trying for a year to even start -- and it begins with a huge advantage.
Instant Relevancy: Facebook will know intricate, intimate details about its search users. Interests, political views, religious views, favorite brands, etc. Some companies buy this data -- the world throws it at Facebook.
Integrated Fanpages: If a huge portion of search is within the bounds of Facebook's empire, marketing for Facebook pages will be suddenly far easier, and they're already the major advertising source for Facebook. I'm currently an advertiser for a page I run, and it would be incredibly beneficial to suddenly have a whole new group of people I can advertise to through results or just on the sidebars. This is a big revenue booster for Facebook.
Marketer's Dream: Having a one-stop shop is a marketer's dream. Right now, social and search campaigns are technically overlapping, but are still very different. If you only have to make Facebook "trust" you, that could be far, far easier than before, meaning marketers who know what they're doing can quickly build a strong online brand if they have a good budget. And the word "budget" is good for Facebook.
This is, of course, speculation about technology companies, and some huge new company could change things in a year or two. Regardless of the future, Facebook is a in a great position to capitalize on this, and Google should be shaking in its boots.
What This Means For Investors
The long-term outlook for Google is horrible. In the short run, it'll likely keep doing great. But over time, Facebook's engine will take a huge portion of Google's precious search income, and it could be deadly. If Facebook continues to fire into Google's basic marketing with a Facebook browser, it could get even more bloody. This kind of long-term risk makes me not want to touch Google stock with a 10-foot pole.
Mix this with the fact that Google search results have become increasingly watered down, and you have a long-term time bomb for Google. Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean "buy Facebook."
I don't own a dime of Facebook for reasons I've mentioned before -- it's not worth anything close to what its stock price is. Its monetization is deplorable so far. It has a lot of potential, but "potential" doesn't pay the bills or pay dividends.
Still, I might make an exception and buy a non-dividend stock if Facebook begins to show real revenue growth in a way that makes its stock not so expensive. I'll be looking for a buy-in opportunity as its search engine plans become more transparent over time.
Disclosure: I am long MSFT.