More people have the web in the palm of their hands than ever before. Smartphone usage isn't exactly slowing down, and for that reason, the search market might get shaken up considerably in the coming months. Google has long dominated the search market, and to this day continues to do so. There is nothing indicating that will change in the near future, but the rise of smartphones and deals among different players could conceivably shake things up, and make things a bit more competitive.
AT&T has just confirmed that a new Android device it is about to begin offering (The Motorola Backflip, launching March 7), will come with Yahoo as its default search engine, as opposed to Google. This is interesting of course, because Android is Google's mobile operating system. How many more deals like this will we see?
Microsoft will eventually launch its new Windows phones, which will come with a Bing hardware key. Owners of these phones will automatically use Bing as their search engine when they hit the search button, which will be the most convenient way of searching from the devices.
When you look at things like this, it almost seems as though popularity of specific mobile devices may dictate to some extent, search engine usage. Right now, Google powers the uber-popular iPhone's search, but that could change in time. It appears that mobile carriers and manufacturers are playing an increasingly significant role in search usage (probably a good reason that Microsoft is said to be investing a billion in mobile).
PC hardware traditionally hasn't made search a focal point, and therefore hasn't had a huge influence on what search engine a person uses. How much will PC use shift to smartphone use though? It's not likely to completely replace it anytime soon (as MIcrosoft CEO Steve Ballmer implied in his keynote at SMX West yesterday), but I know personally, I've spent less time on my PC since I got my current phone, and much of the activity I use that phone for requires search (the most convenient method being the hardware search button).
Then you have apps. New apps come out everyday, and you never know what's going to be popular tomorrow. There are already apps out there changing how people find local businesses, for example. More apps mean more choices for the consumer, and that could mean an even greater scattering of search market share.
It seems to me that mobile is the best thing search competition has going for it. For Google to defend its title, staying relevant in the mobile space is going to be key moving forward. Fortunately for them, they're doing a pretty good job so far. Last I saw, Android usage was on the rise (though deals like AT&T and Yahoo's seem to blur the lines a bit).
How big of an impact do you think the mobile industry will have on the search market? Share your thoughts here.