Facebook Takes a Step Closer to Its Own Search Engine

And Facebook's reach grows bigger...

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) announced this week it is revamping its Bing search engine to include content from Facebook and other social media platforms.

The move introduces a new sidebar to Bing, which aims to connect users with friends and other aficionados who can provide help, assistance and advice related to the performed search.

The Redmond, WA-based Microsoft said the foray is based on the fact that "90% of people consult with a friend or expert before making a decision."

The venture will hopefully give Bing some bang. Data reveals that Bing has about 15% of the U.S. search market, while Internet search behemoth Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) commands a 66% portion. Microsoft is hoping many will likethe new element and it will entice people to favor Bing when Web searching.

The new service will appear to the right of all search results, and will highlight a feature dubbed Friends Who Might Know.

Microsoft wrote on its blog, "Bing suggests friends on Facebook who might know about the topic-based on what they "like," their Facebook profile information, or photos they have shared so you can easily ask them about relevant experiences and opinions. For example, if you're searching for diving spots in Costa Rica...you may discover that one of your friends knows a great spot, based on photos from their last trip."

Bing will also flag other topic "specialists," identified from their posts on Google's social network Google+, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn and Quora.

The feature will roll out shortly in the United States, according to Microsoft. The company did not comment about other locations.

Facebook Search Engine

The new collaboration strengthens the bond Microsoft and Facebook built in 2007, when the Windows-maker shelled out $240 million for a 1.6% stake in the social network giant.

With a Facebook IPO set to debut in a week or so, that stake will be worth more than $1 billion.

The new Bing move, however, could eventually backfire on Microsoft. If the latest tie-up proves hugely successful, it could egg on Facebook to launch its own search service.

Facebook on Thursday announced it will debut its own App store, a market dominated by Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL). With 900 million members worldwide, there is little Facebook cannot or will do to keep its massive user base content - and the money to keep rolling in.

London-based digital marketing agency Greenlight, which has studied the matter, said Facebook could capture around 22% of the global search market by simply launching its own search engine tomorrow.

"It wouldn't need to be a spectacular engine either, just well integrated into the Facebook experience," BBC News reported.

Facebook IPO Interest Wanes

The search engine news comes as Bloomberg News reports that the highly anticipated Facebook IPO may not be quite as highly anticipated as first thought.

Some investors have cooled their enthusiasm for the offering following Facebook's May 9 revelation that advertising growth hasn't kept pace with the increase in users.

With about a week until Facebook is set to debut, underwriters are scrambling to drum up interest from "big money" investors. While the IPO price has not been set, a price range has been revealed, and the top end values the world's most popular social network at $96 billion.

Fillippo Garbirino, who manages $50 million at Frontwave Capital Ltd. in Switzerland, told Bloomberg, "It's overvalued at the price. Investors are becoming more sensitive and there are quite a few fallen angles around, like Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX). Those who buy Facebook at these levels are more speculators than investors."

Waning interest from institutional investors at this stage could propel the company to rely more heavily on interest and buying from smaller retail investors, who still show robust demand.

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