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Monday, June 13, 2005

Info On The Go -Mobile Search: The Battle Begins

(Via Business 2.0) With the worldwide installed base of mobile-phone owners expected to exceed 2 billion people this year, and with most new phones doubling as portable Internet terminals,the world's largest search engines are battling for control of your cell phone. "Mobile search offers a very different usage case from the personal computer as it will be more contextual and impulsive." That means localized, timely information, like the address of the nearest pizza joint or driving directions to the airport. But there'll be more to success than helping people figure out where to buy a slice. Advertising on a 2-inch screen is a huge challenge, so Yahoo , Google and their competitors will need to devise new revenue streams, such as bundling search with other subscription services like e-mail or music.
Yahoo's mobile search tools, are already well integrated with its desktop client; users can easily search images, the Web, or local listings. And any preferences, information, or locations a user stores in Yahoo's desktop service will appear on the phone. It's easy to imagine a scenario where Yahoo partners with a carrier like Cingular to bundle its search tool with other mobile services in exchange for a small monthly subscriber fee, much like it already does for DSL service.With Google's Web search tool, all local search queries are handled by a text-message-based system.Users must send a text-message query to 46645 (that's "GOOGL"). Google then responds with two results per query. While it's quick and easy to use, there's no hint of a business model. competitors are lining up for a shot at the two giants.It's a potentially lucrative market: According to the Pierz Group, Americans spent nearly $2 billion on directory assistance from their mobile phones last year - at an average of $1.25 a call - which suggests a healthy demand for information on the go. And that's just a fraction of the overall mobile search market. Providing instantaneous answers to a wide range of queries is what will make mobile search invaluable.

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