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Mobile Search: Speaking Truth To Profits

Millions of handsets rest in pockets and purses around the world, and they represent little foldable parts of a multi-billion dollar pie for the search engine market.

Simplicity has been the trait of many successful tech-related services. Google, Digg, Delicious, and Flickr come to mind as examples. Such simplicity will be needed to make mobile search fulfill its promise to consumers and to the companies providing it.

An Opus Research report by Dan Miller and Greg Sterling said that mobile search success will start with a word:
The spoken word is the most natural way to initiate mobile searches – For safety reasons in the short-term, and convenience in the long-term, the seamless integration of a speech-based interface should take hold.

Driving the mobile commerce market, which the report predicts will move from $4 billion last year to $8 billion in 2010, will be the ever-familiar search metaphor. Moving around the mobile web will start with search, just as the PC-oriented web does today.
The wireless service providers know how valuable voice directory assistance is, as they charge a fee for each individual call to 411. Sprint Nextel charges $1.25 per call, for example, and if that doesn’t make the appeal of ad-supported, free directory assistance calls evident, nothing will.

Google has a toe dipped in the market, with their very-much-in-beta free directory assistance product. Ask.com just launched a GPS enabled product for search and other services with Sprint Nextel.

Microsoft did a cannonball into the pool, acquiring TellMe Networks for its voice technology that provides a variety of services to callers. Bill Gates believes the end of the Yellow Pages is coming, because of mobile search.

That last point is up for debate, for the reason of simplicity we stated earlier. Flipping through an alphabetized index is dead simple.

Mobile search as it pertains to directory assistance, call it the key to the local mobile ad market, has to be as close to that ease of use and effectiveness as possible.

About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. He has appeared on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and has been referenced by many online tech publications.

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