This is going to be the comedy act of the year.
Numerous articles floating around seem to promote the idea that Google may be unable to compete with the likes of Bing once the great social network of Facebook opens the kimono to Microsoft. The argument states: because there is so much personal information about me on Facebook (I actually don't have a Facebook account), that when I search for something on Bing, a cloud of personal information can be analyzed to improve search results. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
First of all, it doesn't make any sense. If I am looking for a schedule of events in San Francisco, what does my Facebook data have to do with it? If I am trying to find the exact date Thomas Jefferson was born, then what does Facebook have to do with it?
This entire gambit is unfortunately about finding new ways to sucker advertisers into selling on the Bing search engine.
Here's is what is going to happen. You are going to search for the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, and the advertising delivery modeler, which would normally find some random advertisement for memorial information or Jeffersonian memorabilia or who knows what, will now look at your Facebook information, see that you went to Jefferson High School and assume you are obviously looking up something in regards to the school. If the engine is worth a powder, it will do the math and discover that you're class is having a their 40th annual high school reunion, and the ad server will hopefully display ads for party favors, event planning and other related items. Thus, target ads would be based on multiple factors.
Yes, under some circumstance, this might actually work. And, boy, I bet it works great when shown on a PowerPoint presentation or in a rigged demonstration, but in the real world, this idea will cough and sputter and probably produce some of the funniest results in the history of targeted advertising. Eventually, it will deteriorate to merely serving you ads based on things you said were your favs on Facebook.
It's only because Microsoft partnered with Facebook once before that it could manage seal this deal. Microsoft is an expert in demos, and I'm sure it can produce a wild and stunning presentation showing how well this social-centric search works. Wait for the standing ovation. But, in fact, it's bound to fail at the search, itself.
Microsoft seems to be missing the point of search. People use Google because it—on average—gets you the result you are looking for better and faster than Bing. It's that simple.
Search is not about delivering better more targeted ads to the reader. When looking for something to buy, I often ignore the paid ads, knowing I may find a better deal from the search results themselves. If I cannot do that, then I will switch search engines.
Meanwhile, Google is freaked and is determined to circumvent the sketchy Microsoft-Facebook cabal. It hopes to concentrate new efforts on location and local services to augment mobile phone searching.
I already know my neighborhood, so local search is only useful for exploring a new area. When in San Francisco, I used local search mechanisms, and they do not work well, to say the least. They suffer from the problem of clutter—arrows slammed on top of each other and messed up maps with too much junk.
This all reflect the biggest problem with search today: clutter—especially clutter within popular search categories. Repetitive and duplicative commercial sites selling cell phone plans, ink and cameras appear too often. Bogus SEO-centric sites appear high in search results, obscuring the relevant sites. The clutter problem should be the highest priority of search engines, not social and local search, which will only make the clutter worse.
Google and Microsoft both talk a big game, but like most users, my overall disappointment with search results increases every year. These companies need to realize that search is about three things: results, results, and results. Focus on that.