On 1st February, a few hours after Facebook declared its intention to raise $5 billion in what will probably be the largest initial public offering in tech history, Mark Zuckerberg gave his followers a cryptic clue as to where his social network titan might be headed next…
After the announcement he released a photo of his office desk, upon which is a large sign with the words “Stay focused and keep shipping” and his open laptop.
However, it is what can be glimpsed on his laptop that has caused the most excitement and speculation. The more eagle eyed followers among us have noticed that on the screen is a standard Facebook page, but at the top there seems to be an unusually elongated white box. Web pundits have speculated that the image shows Zuckerberg’s next trick. The prototype of a new Facebook search engine.
Currently the Facebook search box on each page is fairly basic. You can search for your friends, other members, locations and venues, but for more specific searches the results can be more unorganised. A really functional and robust search is still lacking from Facebook, which is why this blurry image of Zuckerberg’s laptop screen has caused such a buzz.There are rumours that Facebook engineers have been working on ways to make searching the social network much better in the near future. Their goal is to help users better sift through the volume of content that members create on the site, such as status updates, articles, videos and other information across the Web that people “like” using Facebook’s omnipresent thumbs-up button.
Armed with a more powerful and user friendly search engine, it will give users less reason to leave the sites all encompassing wall, they will be able to fulfull there online social needs as well as conduct detailed searches for anything else they may wish to look for. Facebook could also follow the lead of companies such as Google and Microsoft and start selling relevant—and profitable—keyword ads alongside results. Facebook currently trails behind other websites on the search engine front, so it seems reasonable to believe that they would want to address this issue at some point.
There has been no official comment regarding the speculation, but if legitimate, the product could fill major gaps in Facebook’s current user experience, and make Facebook more attractive to users, advertisers, and investors.