Facebook has made two VERY significant plays this week. It seems ever since their failed acquisition of Twitter, they have made aggressive attempts to de-thrown the current micro-blogging king. Will Facebook's recent moves be enough to do the trick? Probably not. But they're certainly taking a big step in the right direction.
Acquisition of Friendfeed
First and foremost, this was clearly a talent move. With this acquisition (at an estimated price of $50 million), Facebook gets FriendFeed's 11 engineers and its ex-Google cofounders Bret Taylor and Paul Buchheit, who helped build products like GMail, Google Maps, and supposedly coined the Google corporate motto of "don't be evil."
So, what else does it mean. Honestly, not much except that Facebook is solidifying its place as the New York Yankees of social web engineering talent.
Facebook's Improved Search Function
Now this is the good stuff. One advantage Twitter has had over Facebook is the ability to search the online chatter in real time for a specific phrase. If you're Heinz ketchup, you can search ketchup in twitter, find your market, and begin engaging them whether or not you followed each other. With Facebook's new real time search function, we can search updates, photos, notes, images, videos and links. To coincide with the new open search, Facebook has made changes that will allow users opt into publicly listed updates in anticipation of people searching for what they're saying.
Why is this so exciting? Because now business are tapped into the Facebook conversation just as they are with Twitter. On top of that, brands will be forced to interact using a personal profile and not some faceless, nameless brand-labeled account. This will facilitate the personalization of micro-blogging interaction that is so important, yet often overlooked.
Is this the end of Twitter? No. Is it the start? Maybe. Facebook is making a loud statement of "anything you can do, I can do better." And they may just be right.