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November 19, 2012

Are Facebook and Yahoo in talks over a search deal?

Facebook may finally be breaking into the search market

By Tineka Smith

Unnamed sources have told The Sunday Telegraph that Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg and Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer were in talks about working together to launch a search engine.

The two companies have already agreed to settle a number of patent lawsuits and even have worked together on projects like sharing Yahoo news on Facebook.

Yahoo CEO
Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer

However, some insist the rumour is false, with Kara Swisher of AllThingsD claiming sources say the two internet giants are not working on any type of search partnership.

Whether Facebook will be working with Yahoo on a search partnership has yet to be seen but the social network has made it known it plans to eventually launch a search service.

Facebook already has a large base of one billion active users that would likely use its search engine if launched.

"We do a billion queries a day and we aren’t even trying. Mostly trying to find people or brand pages or apps," Zuckerberg announced at TechCrunch’s Disrupt conference in San Francisco this year. "There is a big opportunity in search, evolving to giving a set of answers to a specific question and Facebook is uniquely positioned to do that."

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Zuckerberg had said that at "some point" the company would do search and that point could be quite soon.

Facebook's COO
Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg

Facebook unveiled a new search tool in September this year which now allows members to see the searches they make on Facebook along with other activity.

A 2012 Greenlight Search and social study revealed that Facebook could easily become the second most used search engine in major markets, with the exception of Russia, China, and Japan where it could come in third. The survey found that if Facebook wanted to start its own search engine, the company could take 22% of the global search market.

Faceboook has over one billion registered users and is the top social website globally. Facebook could have millions of dedicated users that might be easily influenced to use it as their preferred search engine.

The study also revealed that 5% of those surveyed said they would definitely use Facebook if it launched a search engine to compete against Google’s. 12% of respondents said they would probably use Facebook over their preferred search engine and 9% said they didn’t know.

"These stats therefore suggest Facebook could capture around 22% of the global search market by simply launching its own search engine tomorrow morning (the ‘Definitely’, ‘Probably’, and half of the ‘Don’t know’ respondents combined) says Andreas Pouros, chief operating officer at Greenlight. "It wouldn’t need to be a spectacular engine either, just well integrated into the Facebook experience and generally competent."

However, 26% said they would not use Facebook as a search engine and another 22% said they would probably not even use a search engine developed by Facebook.

Yet 27% of respondents said they would maybe consider using Facebook if it proved to be better than Google or Bing. If Facebook were able to launch a search engine better than Google it could possibly take more than the estimated 22% of the global search engine market.


Please follow this writer on Twitter @Tineka_S or comment below.


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