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Zuckerberg: No Facebook Phone, Confirms Search Engine

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made an appearance at the TechCrunch Disrupt event in San Francisco, talking about the company's mobile strategy and vision. It was the first time he had made a public appearance since Facebook went into IPO mode back in May, acknowledging that the networking giant's public offering – which is now selling for around half the initial $38 price – isn't performing as hoped.

"The performance of the stock has obviously been disappointing," Zuckerberg said.

Investors have reportedly been concerned about the company's ability to increase revenue and make money from the social website's growing mobile audience. But Zuckerberg points out that Facebook has big opportunities in both mobile and search, and that the company's mobile approach has been one of its most "misunderstood" traits thus far.

"I think it's easy for folks to underestimate how fundamentally good mobile is for us," Zuckerberg said in an on-stage interview, adding that more people have phones than PCs, and that they engage with the site more on their mobile devices, as much as six out of seven days a week.

"We already see mobile users are more likely to be daily active users," he said. "We think we're going to make more money on mobile than on the desktop."

So does that mean Facebook may produce its own smartphone? Absolutely not. "It's so clearly the wrong strategy for us," he said. "We're going in the opposite direction [from companies that are building their own phones, such as Google and Apple]. We want to build a system that's as deeply integrated as possible into every device people use."

During the interview, Zuckerberg also touched on rumors that the social website was building its own search engine. He said that Facebook is currently doing 1 billion queries a day – mostly people searches, but also searches for company brand pages and applications -- "and we’re not even trying." He said the company is in the perfect position to get serious about a search engine, and in fact there's a team already working on it.

"I think Facebook is uniquely positioned to answer a lot of queries people have," he said. "Like, 'What sushi restaurants have my friends gone to in New York in the last six months and liked? I know there's a big opportunity there and we just need to go and do that."

People want answers to their queries, not a pile of results to sift through, he added. "Search engines are really evolving to give you a set of answers, ‘I have a specific question, answer this question for me,'" he said.

What Facebook has that Google doesn't – and likely never will – is all the data provided by Facebook users. This is why Google has integrated Google+ into its search algorithms to produce more personal results. Google Now is an attempt to get even more personal, pulling from the user's Calendar, location and other details to offer a more personal pool of results.

Zuckerberg also talked about some of the "missteps" Facebook has taken over the years, including jumping on the HTML5 bandwagon rather than focusing on native apps. He made it perfectly clear that Facebook remains optimistic about the web-based platform, but taking that route has caused the company's mobile strategy to suffer.

"But we're coming out of that," the said. "The [new] iOS app is out and the [new] Android will be out soon."

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  • Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer
    People want answers to their queries, not a pile of results to sift through, he added. "Search engines are really evolving to give you a set of answers, ‘I'm too lazy to do any research for myself, so snoop into all of my personal information and then do my thinking for me,'" he said.

    Fixed that for you...
    Reply
  • spartanmk2
    The weekend cant get here soon enough :(
    Reply
  • samkl
    Search engines have simple workflow: ask-> find -> answer. If you keep getting irrelevant answers, then search feels like a broken experience.

    Facebook has huge wealth of data. Some might be useful and some is just mumbo-jumbo . Interesting how FB will make their data useful and what people will find useful.
    Could "googling" become "facebooking"?
    -SK

    Reply
  • teh_chem
    Old_Fogie_Late_BloomerPeople want answers to their queries, not a pile of results to sift through, he added. "Search engines are really evolving to give you a set of answers, ‘I'm too lazy to do any research for myself, so snoop into all of my personal information and then do my thinking for me,'" he said.Fixed that for you...But on the other hand, why would I want to make a research project out of finding a specific site/answer/product? Sure, I'm fine with sifting through results to find what I need, but if I don't have to, why would I want to? I'd rather just be more efficient so I can do other more worthwhile things with my time. Not that a search result takes up THAT much time to sift through, but what MZ is discussing is less of a "search" and more of an "answer." And I think--despite how I feel about FB in general--that that does have relevance to a lot of users. His example is pretty good too--"I'm similar to my friends, and I probably have similar food opinions, so find me a sushi restaurant around me that my friends also liked." That should be an entirely different answer than if you searched yelp or google places. I think FB has mostly been a joke in terms of its IPO, but there is also the capacity to produce a service that appeals to a lot of people. Outside of sharing your mundane trivial quips, that is...
    Reply
  • Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer
    teh_chemNot that a search result takes up THAT much time to sift through...This is my point. We're not talking the difference between "a research project" and "do more worthwhile things with my time". We're talking a few minutes. If it is worth it to someone to tell Facebook a whole bunch of personal information just to save a minute or two while looking for a sushi place, then great, but...
    Reply
  • dalethepcman
    Why would I search facebook for sushi restaurants my friends liked in New York. When I could just ask my friends what restaurants they like?

    And if I was feeling especially introverted, then I would go to urbanspoon for newyork and click on sushi...

    Social search is a useless tool for the masses, and only assists governments and corporations on tracking users and gathering trend data.
    Reply
  • halcyon
    Facebook. What a waste.
    Reply
  • teh_chem
    Old_Fogie_Late_BloomerThis is my point. We're not talking the difference between "a research project" and "do more worthwhile things with my time". We're talking a few minutes. If it is worth it to someone to tell Facebook a whole bunch of personal information just to save a minute or two while looking for a sushi place, then great, but...Oh, don't get me wrong--I'm not disagreeing with you in principle. It doesn't matter to me personally if I look through a set of results--but at the same time, a set of results is not actually an answer. And if a user is looking for an answer, then that's not the best service for them. I think it's a realistic lack in the "search service" market, especially when you consider that most people are doing things on their phones vs. their desktops--on an inherently less-UI-friendly platform for "lengthy" search/browsing.
    Reply
  • anti-painkilla
    Soon 'hot single girl within 50km that has low standards' will actually bring back results.
    Reply
  • Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer
    anti-painkillaSoon 'hot single girl within 50km that has low standards' will actually bring back results.The search engine will look at all the women you tag as "Close Friends" (or whatever) on Facebook, analyze their pictures to build a profile of what you find attractive, and then offer you a "hotness" slider so that you can select how close to that ideal the potential search result has to be.

    It'll also have a slider allowing you to choose which standard of "single" you're comfortable with.

    Clicking "More options" will also let you set your standard for "female".
    Reply