Facebook Graph Search launching 'pretty soon' on mobile

CEO Mark Zuckerberg promises a mobile version of the social network's unconventional search engine and slips in a little dig directed at Google.

Jennifer Van Grove Former Senior Writer / News
Jennifer Van Grove covered the social beat for CNET. She loves Boo the dog, CrossFit, and eating vegan. Her jokes are often in poor taste, but her articles are not.
Jennifer Van Grove
2 min read
The company first trotted out Graph Search in January 2013.

Facebook is finally closing in on the mobile launch of Graph Search, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday. The news comes more than a year after the company trotted out Graph Search as a radical new way to search for people, places, photos, and interests on the social network's Web site.

The chief of the world's largest social network, now with more than 1.23 billion monthly active users, made the better-late-than-never revelation during the company's fourth-quarter earnings call with analysts.

"Pretty soon, I think, you should expect us to roll out the mobile version of this," Zuckerberg said. "I think that that's going to be an important step, because most of the usage of Facebook overall is on mobile, so we expect that that's where engagement will really start to come from on Graph Search over time."

Announced in January of last year, Graph Search gives people an unconventional way to query the network with natural language. The powerful search engine can be used to uncover items buried behind years of content, though there's a learning curve involved with using the engine to the fullest of its capabilities.

A year later, Graph Search, which was initially touted as a third-pillar product as core to Facebook as News Feed and Timeline, is still available only on desktop and in English. The lack of a mobile version is punctuated by Facebook's repeated mantra of now being a mobile-first company and the fact that a majority of the company's daily active users (73 percent) access the site from their smartphones.

Zuckerberg attempted to explain away the lag in a mobile release with remarks about the complexity of indexing more than 1 trillion connections and a trillion status updates. Graph Search, he insisted, is a multiyear effort.

"As a number of people on the team...have told me, a trillion pieces of content is more than indexed in any Web search engine."

Hear that, Google? Facebook thinks it's better at indexing content than you are. With mobile Graph Search finally on its way, it sounds like it's time to dust off the year-old story line of Facebook going after Google's bread and butter.