Facebook is one of the biggest tech companies around today, and it keeps pushing for more. I call it a “tech company,” not a social media company, because despite Facebook’s primary function as a social media platform, its functionality has expanded and its presence has increased to a level that is now starting to rival more diverse, ubiquitous companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Google. Google, with its unrivaled search engine and breakthroughs in many different areas, is probably the player to beat in the tech scene, and after nearly a decade of running the show, it may have a new, worthy competitor.Facebook is paving a way forward with innovation and rigorous development. While many of its most forward-thinking functions are still in their infancy, it’s realistic that the company can and will grow to become the dominant force on the scene—and within a short timeframe, too.Take, for instance, these five ways that Facebook could threaten Google’s position, all of which are entirely achievable by 2020:1. Developing Its Own Search Engine. Debuting back in May, Facebook subtly introduced a new in-app search feature. Up until late last year, users could use a Bing-powered system to sort through old conversations with friends on the system. However, after breaking the partnership with Bing and introducing its own intra-app search feature, Facebook unveiled an even newer, more powerful search feature. When making a post in the mobile app, users can search for a link to include in the body of the post—for example, if you’re referencing a specific article, you can use this feature to bring it up rather than relying on a separate Google search app or something similar. Currently, the search function is limited in capability and only subtly displayed to users. However, Facebook could have plans to roll out a larger, more robust version as it grows more complex in the next few years.2. Offering Its Own News. Facebook realized something profound recently. Some news articles were getting more clicks from social shares on the platform than they were in direct visits, site browsing, or Google searches combined. So they developed a new way to address this phenomenon: Facebook Instant Articles. Rather than publishing off-site and relying on syndication links to attract more traffic, publishers can now feature their work directly and fully on Facebook. Theoretically, this could result in more engagement (since people no longer have to click through to read the rest of the article), but this already poses a serious threat to both Google News and typical Google search results. Why would users go out looking for news when it populates their Facebook newsfeeds automatically based on their preferences?3. Understanding Its Population Better. Speaking of user preferences, Facebook has always held a secret weapon in its loose competition against Google: deep user knowledge. Google can probably map out your search history and speculate your intentions with certain queries, but Facebook knows how you speak to people. It knows all your friends. It knows your favorite bands and movies, too. And it’s getting better at aggregating this information, learning from it, and applying it in meaningful ways.4. Offering Better, Cheaper Advertising. Facebook ads already have a brilliant interface with in-depth metric analysis tools and excellent resources for planning your campaign. Combined with the fact that placing these ads is generally less expensive than placing a similar ad through Google AdWords, it’s no wonder why Facebook ad spending is growing. As Facebook continues to learn more about its population, offer more tools for potential advertisers, and become better known as a digital advertising authority, Google may hit a serious obstacle. Today, Google and Facebook advertising are fairly comparable. In the near future, Facebook may be objectively superior, with better reach, better insights, and fewer expenses.Recommended by Forbes5. Universal Internet. While not as relevant to the average consumer, Google and Facebook are already racing in one key application—the provision of free Internet to the entire world. Between Google’s Project Loon and Facebook’s Internet.org, both companies are desperate to get the edge on the next great connectivity revolution. Offering Internet for free may not seem like the most profitable venture for either company, but there’s great brand power to earn from being the first one to offer it. Here, Facebook is already competing with Google, but it will be a few years before we learn who gets there first.
WOMEN’S POWER: ITS PAST, ITS PRESENT, ITS FUTURE: FEMOCRACY