Mobile Operators' Different Ideas About Mobile Search
from the semantics dept
Mobile search is an area targeted by a lot of startups looking to take advantage of the high interest in it, as well as the perceived lack of attention it gets from big players like Google and Yahoo. What drives the interest from the startups and from mobile operators is the belief that they can wring money out of paid search and advertising, like search engines have done on the wired web. But rather than being an oversight, it's more likely that the big web players are moving very deliberately when it comes to mobile products, based on the realization that mobile search is significantly different than web search. For mobile operators, search typically refers to either content discovery -- figuring out how to direct people to mobile content they can purchase -- or some as-yet unknown way of generating pay-per-click or pay-per-call advertising. That's why web search giants aren't particularly interested: operators are talking about mobile search that's set up for their benefit, not for their users'. So Google or Yahoo not making a huge leap into a full-featured version of its web offering that's crafted for small screens (as opposed to their current scaled-back mobile versions) isn't necessarily a mistake or a shortcoming -- the strategy of offering much narrower and tightly focused task-centered mobile applications and services is a sound one, one that recognizes what users want when they're "searching" from a mobile phone.