Microsoft may not have the market muscle or consumer cachet to unseat Google in the search market. But how about Facebook?
Facebook today introduced a coming feature to its dominant social networking service with the terrible name Graph Search. Currently in beta and available only to certain users, Graph Search is designed to help Facebook’s billion-plus member base map their relationships—what Facebook calls “one trillion connections”—with the people and things they care about.
According to Facebook, Graph Search will appear as a large search bar at the top of each page in the Facebook web experience. As you search for items, you can save the search results and give it a custom name, creating a custom view.
Facebook differentiate Graph Search (which is clearly “awesome”) from web search (“lame”) in this way: Where web search takes a set of keywords and provides results, Graph Search combines phrases (“my friends in New York who like Jay-Z,” is seriously the example they use) to get that set of people, places, photos and/or other content that's been shared on Facebook. But this is a huge threat to Google because these trillion connections is all a bunch of meaningful data that it can’t see, index, or sell ads against.
At first, Graph Search will focus on four key areas: people, places, photos, and interests.
If you’re interested in Graph Search and would like early access, you need to act fast, as there’s a waiting list. Visit the Graph Search web site to sign up. (You have to scroll all the way down to the bottom.)
Separately, Microsoft made an announcement that I believe is designed to offset the bad news that Facebook’s powerful new Graph Search was homegrown and doesn’t use any Bing technologies: The Bing and Facebook engineering teams worked together and came up with was a better way to search the web … from within Facebook.
“That means that when people want to search beyond Facebook, they see web search results from Bing with social context and additional information such as Facebook pages,” the Bing team writes in the Bing Search blog. “Facebook user will not only see useful results, but we think have serendipitous experiences.” I’ll spare you yet another Jay-Z example. (Yes, seriously.)
But if I’m reading this right, Graph Search isn’t actually the result of a collaboration with Microsoft and Facebook. Instead, Microsoft and Bing have worked together to create search results that appear in Facebook when Graph Search can’t return any results. A fall back of sorts.