No one will challenge Google’s leadership in pure generic searches anytime in the near future. This doesn’t mean that more specific types of searchers couldn’t offer a challenge at the margins.
If my memory serves me correctly, business mavens laughed and ridiculed the tiny startup known as Google who had the audacity to challenge the behemoth Yahoo! We all know how that turned out. Many folks doubted open-source browser developer Mozilla would seriously challenge Microsoft’s dominance of the browser market, Folks are taking them seriously now though IE still dominates.
Facebook’s huge user base currently leaves facebook to do most any kind of keyword search right now. Most use Google, but how many will use a search box built into Facebook when it’s available?
Facebook’s new question and answer service will not seriously challenge Google’s more general-purpose Search Engine, however, it could become an interesting vehicle for highly target advertising, which strikes at the heart of Google’s primary revenue source.
Despite numerous attempts, Google has yet to build a successful social media platform from scratch. Their one truly large scale successful platform was purchased not built (Youtube). The enhanced search results that social networks could potentially provide through recommendations from people you know and trust has some serious commercial value and could potentially suck the most lucrative advertising dollars away from Google.
While Google dominates nearly all types of searches, they make nearly all of the money from searches with commercial intent. If Facebook is clever with its new offering they could have Angie’s List meets Yahoo Answers with your best friends and family providing moderation including recommendations and reviews. Which would you trust more when making a purchase?
If Facebook were to become the first stop for searches with commercial intent, where does that leave Google? They would have the highest search volume, but not necessarily the most lucrative search volume. Certainly not an ideal situation for Google.