You know that thing when you see a regular web user navigate to Facebook via Google rather than using the address bar? Why do they do that?
I was thinking about this the other day I think I've come up with a reason.
If you think of the browser address bar as a command-line and a web search as a GUI it starts to make sense.
If you get one character wrong using the address bar you will be met by—probably at best—a page not found error. Whereas a search would have a "did you mean" suggestion if not a link to the site you're looking for.
Using a search engine you do not need to remember if the website uses www, some other subdomain, .com, .net, .co.uk… but just the company name or a couple of keywords vaguely in the right area.
In fact it probably makes more sense for a novice user to use search to navigate the web when you consider phishing scams and the like.
I think it could be argued that the address bar is a pro-user tool and as such I wouldn't be surprised if it starts to be hidden in future versions of web browsers, especially on mobile devices.
Comments? Tweet me @mealybar, smoke signals, or homing pigeon, or something :)