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Clear the decks! Are Google and Facebook now set for a battle royal?

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By Noel Young | Correspondent

January 16, 2013 | 4 min read

The day after the launch of Facebook's new Graph search tool, the Wall Street Journal summed up its likely impact under the headline, "Facebook on Collision Course With Google on Web Searches".

Google: No comment

The new Facebook search tool that sifts through people's profiles pushes the social network deeper into Google's home turf, said the WSJ.

"The two companies are vying to become the primary gateway to the Internet," said the Journal. "Google has long served as a destination to find websites and information; Facebook, to share gossip and photos with friends.

"But those distinctions are increasingly blurring, and billions in advertising dollars are at stake."

Facebook was going after, "Well, Everybody" With Graph Search, said the WSJ, "enabling members to conduct complex queries related to their friends' profiles, such as 'tourist attractions in France visited by my friends'."

"In doing so, Facebook is attacking Google's core strength and its most lucrative product—search—in a bid to convince people they might not need to use Google to find information."

The WSJ had company in making their powerful point. The Bloomberg headline read, "Facebook Unveils Social-Search Tool Challenging Google."

"When fully rolled out, the tool will give many Web users an incentive to spend less time on Google, Yelp’s reviews and LinkedIn’s professional site," said Bloomberg.

The New York Times described Graph search as "Facebook’s most ambitious stab at overturning the Web search business ruled by its chief rival, Google." On Facebook's home turf in California, the San Jose Mercury News said Graph search was a " powerful weapon to challenge the Internet dominance of (Facebook's) much larger rival, Google ."

Most of Google's $40 billion in annual revenue world-wide comes from selling ads on its search engine. Research firm eMarketer said that in the U.S., Google was projected to make more than $13 billion in search-ad revenue, or 75 per cent of the entire market, in 2012.

Google has indexed 30 trillion unique Web pages across 230 million sites and last year, changed its search engine to make it easier for people to quickly get detailed information and other "direct answers" to search queries at the top of the search-results page, rather than just links.

Sound like anything you've read about this week?

The WSJ points out that Google anticipated Facebook's move into search, and in 2011 set up its own social-networking service, Google+ to obtain data about specific individuals by name, their personal interests and the identities of their friends.

It then integrated Google+ with its Web-search service, so that people searching for a particular website, local restaurant or real-world product will be alerted if any of their Google+ contacts previously rated it positively or negatively.

A Google spokesman declined to comment.

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