Friday Grok: Two modes of search — Google and Facebook

Slowly, inevitably Bing climbs

Search is so central to First World Problems these days that any time Google makes a significant change, the news wires start to hum, fish start to fall from the sky and statues start bleeding from the eyeballs.

So, it was this week "Search, plus Your World" was announced, which ReadWriteWeb described as the inevitable integration between Google search and Google+.

Basically, Google now provides two modes of search. The first, the global search mode, which will be familiar to all Google users as it’s the mode we have all become addicted to over the years. The second, the personal mode, which is the new, more subversive style that does what the Web has always done best — reinforces user prejudice. It does this by leveraging the user's Google+ circles.

Grok can't help but think that the personal mode seems to be pulling Google in the direction of nemesis, Facebook's philosophy of enclosure.

Remember, Google is about organising the world's information. But Facebook is about enclosing it, repackaging it, sticking a price tag on it and hawking it to the highest bidder off the back of a truck, preferably in a dark alley away from the prying eyes of the Department of Justice. And Google’s personal mode looks more like a wink to the latter idea than the former.

For the tens of thousands of years of human commerce, markets have always enclosed that which was previously common — everything from, the village common to your DNA, for instance. Facebook is simply the latest spectacular embodiment of the trend. It's also why Facebook will ultimately win its cultural smackdown with Google. After all, you can't trump human nature.

Needless to say, Facebook remains beyond the grasp of the Google spiders, and Grok expects it will be ever so.

Meanwhile, and more quietly than it is probably warranted, Microsoft continues to grow in the search market, overtaking Yahoo in the US last month, according to comScore. Microsoft's three-year-old Bing search engine (actually, it's only the name that's three years old, its search has been around longer) has crept into second place. Although, it’s still a long way behind Google.

Most of Bing's growth has been pinged from Yahoo which appears to be in long-term decline. A tie up between the two — repeatedly speculated — would leave a joint operation with about 30 per cent market share, still an age behind Capital G , but big enough to get the notice of the advertisers and just as importantly, the financial analysts. Grok's view has always been that once Microsoft starts to eat into Google's core search audience in any meaningful way the money markets will turn hard, fast and ugly on Google's share price exposing the weakness of its one trick pony revenue model.

eBay’s mobility, stupid

When eBay ramps, man does it ramp. eBay and its subsidiary Paypal has provided some insight into the strength of the growing mobile payments market through key note addresses at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.

According to a recent report in <i>Techcrunch</i>, eBay chief, John Donahue, said the company doubled the value of its gross volume merchandise between 2010 and 2011 to reach $5 billion. Earlier in the show, Paypal revealed it beat its own expectation for the mobile market with $3.5 billion in payments. And Paypal expects to double that again this year.

By September, there may be a billion little 'Facebookers’

Finally, let's get our first chart in for the year. This time it's courtesy of the Business Insider. Coverage of Facebook's IPO will heat up quickly the closer we get to April with nothing short of a significant collapse in capital markets generally standing between Mark Zuckerberg and his $100 billion market cap.

This chart demonstrates why. It looks like Facebook is on its way to one billion users by September, continuing a growth trend that really kicked off in Q3 of 2008. Perhaps more importantly, the social networking website has maintained the truly stunning trend whereby <i>50 per cent of its users log in every day</i>, as it is claimed.

You need to read that last bit out loud again slowly, three times, just to make sure you totally dig it.

There's also a series of great infographics on Mashable about Facebook's IPO, for the truly obsessed that can be found here.

Andrew Birmingham is the CEO of Silicon Gully Investments. He is addicted to Facebook. You can email him at or follow him on Twitter, which he regards more as an occupational hazard at @ag_birmingham.

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