I'll be moderating a Mobile Search panel for the Wireless Communications Alliance (WCA) tonight - Tuesday October 21 - seven years after I spoke there last on "mobile application development platforms." Our esteemed panelists include:
- Lee Ott, Director, oneSearch, Yahoo!
- Josh Siegel, Product Manager, Local Mobile, Google
- Greg Carpenter, Founder & CEO, Boopsie
- Mark Grandcolas, Director of Business Development, Computing Science Laboratory (CSL), PARC
I personally have found my mobile search behavior changing over the last couple of years - I was originally a fiend on Google mobile search, even using it at dinner tables to settle debates. Now, I finding myself using very verticalized mobile search utilities - I think mobile search is about these specific use-cases as opposed to a general horizontal search approach. Examples of mobile search apps I use include: VuClip's mobile video search, Wikipanion mobile search, Yelp's local search, Dash Navigation's local navigation search, Greystripe's Gamejump games search, Jingle's Free411 service, and LinkedIn's people search.
The market has evolved as well - in 2005/2006, several independent mobile search companies got funded. Since then, I think Google and Yahoo! have cemented their lead in the horizontal mobile search space and Nokia has appeared as a strong contender, especially outside the US with its D2C strategy. Google and Yahoo! have been duking it out across the world for mobile operator on-deck deals - witness Yahoo's Telefonica deal and Google's NTT DoCoMo deal. I don't know the exact numbers but I believe live/automated paid directory assistance (which is also mobile search in a broader sense) offered by the mobile operators has also suffered at the hands of mobile local search, mobile horizontal search and free directory assistance - I have heard second-hand rumors that free directory assistance might have taken 5-7% of share away from paid directory assistance.
Many of the mobile search companies have added a greater emphasis on mobile advertising; mobile search has broadened out to include local search (especially with the popularity of GPS-enabled mobile devices), controlled search (searching for media/content in your phone's file system), and voice search; and verticalized mobile search has gained prominence.
So will the future bring the dominance of horizontal mobile search or will verticalized search continue to hold its own? How will mobile search evolve different in carrier-controlled markets (e.g. US) versus more open markets? What modes of search will dominate (browser, client, SMS, voice, in-car)? What effect will the iPhone/Android have on mobile search? Does the online model of ads alongside mobile search results work in a mobile setting? We'll talk more about this at the panel.