Thursday, October 8, 2009

Strategies for success of mobile search

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA: With a growing appetite for mobile applications, services, and content, consumers and business users will be looking to mobile search to streamline their information/content access and retrieval.

“Unfortunately, there is little ‘joy of use’ in the current mobile search user experience”, said Sarah Burnett, Ovum Senior Analyst, based in London. With a growing appetite for mobile content, consumers and business users will be looking to mobile search for information or content access and retrieval.

Given the rapid evolution of mobile devices and networks in recent years, they would be justified in thinking that mobile search would provide slick interfaces and accurate results. But in most cases they would be disappointed. While search on the Internet has revolutionised how we access information, the same is not true of mobile search. This is still in its infancy, and the typical user experience leaves much to be desired.

Burnett said: “Vendors and content providers have to recognise that people interact with their mobile phones in very different ways than they do their PCs. The interaction is dictated by the tiny screen, typically awkward keypad and limited on-screen navigation. Given these constraints, navigating a long list of search results is hardly user-friendly”.

“Mobile search should deliver answers, not links”, advised Mark Blowers, Ovum Principal Analyst. There is more to mobile search than just browsing. In mobile devices there is an increased need for accuracy, relevancy and contextual results.

This is not to say that PC users do not require the same, but on a PC it is much easier to create an advanced search query that improves the probability of getting the right answer. The need for a simple and easy user interface and user-friendly results is amplified in a mobile device.

Already, mobile search tools such as Taptu only list sites that are optimised for mobile viewing. As more people switch to mobiles for web access, site sponsors will see their hits decline unless they provide better mobile support.

Google and Yahoo have begun to offer location-tailored results. Given their Internet search presence, it is not surprising that they are two of the leading players in the mobile search market – helped by alliances with mobile service providers that place them as preferred search solutions on web-enabled handsets.

Their solutions are optimised for mobile use and, to facilitate speed of delivery, URL and search suggestions appear as you type. Another vendor, Apple, provides a good example of how successful location-based search applications can be – there are many offerings within Apple’s App Store that use the handset’s location to provide details of local facilities (such as restaurants) and other tailored information.

“The giants of PC-based search will be difficult to topple. Small technology companies will continue to create niche mobile search applications, but brand recognition and deep research & development pockets make existing market leaders obvious favourites in the race for mobile search queries and, ultimately, the associated advertising revenues”, concluded Blowers.

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