"This is a very good move for Facebook and it will earn them points with both common users and commercial users alike," said Olds. "There are more than a billion users on Facebook now, each one with some sort of data attached to them, whether it's stuff they've uploaded or their connections or whatever. This is a huge amount of interesting and useful data on its own, but the interrelationships between all of these users and things is even more valuable."
Jeff Kagan, an independent analyst, noted that while some people might be disappointed about Facebook's announcement today, it could be more important than they realize. "Users have been wanting a good search capability for a long time," said Kagan. "Will this be the answer? So far Facebook search has been awful.... If done right this could lead to another wave of Facebook growth."
Last fall, Zuckerberg said in an on-stage interview that he was interested in pursuing search and that Facebook, at that point, already handled about a billion queries a day.
Even so, Gartner analyst Brian Blau said that didn't fully prepare the company to take on a search job as big as the one just launched.
"...This is new tech," he said. "They had to solve lots of tech problems, including natural language search and all the issues behind making the search real-time, while respecting the privacy and audience settings on each piece of content."
Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, said this isn't a project that Facebook pulled off in the last few months.
"Great search is a very difficult, multi-year effort," said Moorhead. "Facebook had to leverage what they had with the current site, then add additional search filters and algorithms to take it to the next level. Instead of providing links to searches, it provides the data."
In this video provided by Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook employees discuss the company's new Graph Search technology. The company announced the beta of the new feature on Jan. 15, 2013.
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her email address is email@example.com.