Is Facebook About to Give Google Fits?


Facebook's share price is finally higher than the age of its CEO.

The social networking website operator hit $30 for the first time since mid-July, clawing its way back toward May's IPO price of $38.

It won't be an easy road back, but Facebook is clearly regaining momentum.

The dot-com speedster doesn't want to slip again. It is hosting a media event next Tuesday to show off its latest developments. "Come and see what we're building," reads the teaser, and now everybody's speculating about what exactly Zuckerberg and his band of dreamers are weaving these days.

Topeka Capital Markets notes that Facebook does have a team of developers working on smartphone solutions, though the team is more likely toiling away on better carrier integration than putting out an actual Facebook smartphone. As popular as Facebook may be these days -- 1 billion active accounts and climbing -- mobile access today isn't all that different than the desktop experience. Putting out its own device would be an embarrassing mistake.

Topeka analyst Victor Anthony also suggests that a video advertising product may be in the work, giving the company yet another way to monetize mobile usage as it gets sponsors to pay more to reach its engaged audience.

Expanding its recently launched Gifts e-commerce platform is another possibility, but the real head turner here would be if Facebook steps up next week with details of the social search engine that Zuckerberg was hinting at this past summer.

Google obviously won't be happy if Facebook begins tapping into its user preferences and more than 140 billion connections between its users to raise the bar on search. Big G can scour the Web like nobody else, but what if Facebook can scour friends to offer up sponsored restaurant recommendations, yoga instructors, or travel tips?

Yes, Facebook moving into search would find it competing with early investor and strategic partner Microsoft , but this wouldn't be the first time that Facebook severs ties with a laggard. Facebook seemed to be tethered to Zynga for the lion's share of its non-advertising revenue a year ago, but it has been able to distance itself from the social gaming leader now that Zynga's business is shrinking. Facebook's responsibility rests in growing its company. If it has to hurt Bing's feelings to achieve great goals, that's fine.

Welcome back to $30, Facebook. Keep searching for more.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Aristotle Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Facebook and Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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