"In fact, you could even argue that search is the Web. Owning a successful search engine is one of the keys to the kingdom of Internet riches. Advertisers will flock to you and you can build a lot of ancillary products based on search. If Facebook can build a better search mousetrap, or at least a decent one, they'll have a much more compelling product to sell to advertisers," he added.
Olds noted that Google has a lot of user data, but not nearly as much as Facebook. A strong Facebook search tool, therefore, could prove very attractive to potential advertisers.
Brad Shimmin, an analyst with Current Analysis, however, said Facebook may not yet have the resources needed to overtake Google in a market it has dominated for so long.
"I don't think a Google-like search is a service that will benefit Facebook users," he said.
"That's not why they go to Facebook. Google is an infrastructure. Facebook is a destination. Users look to the two for very different reasons. As with any business venture, a failed attempt to capture an already conquered market, such as Web search, could injure Facebook's overall corporate position," Shimmin added.
It's always risky when a company takes its eye off of what made it successful in the first place, analysts said. To move just part of its focus from creating social tools, especially in the midst of an IPO, is a bit of a gamble, some analysts said.
"The possible downside is if Facebook gets all wrapped around the axle trying to out Google Google," said Olds.
"They won't be successful if they try to build an exact substitute for Google. They need to build something that's uniquely suited to Facebook users and serves them better, or at least as well, as Google's search tools," Olds added.
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin , or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is email@example.com .
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