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Mobile Search Slow to Catch On

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“Mobile Internet searching is still out of the loop,” Chris Oakes of the International Herald Tribune reported Monday.

Search engines are available for mobile Internet users. Big name companies such as Yahoo! and Google offer mobile search services but the services aren’t as widely known – or used – as PC search.

The notion of mobile search seems enticing enough. Through their cell phones and mobile devices, searchers could search on the go, without the need of computer access. So why aren’t more people taking advantage of mobile search? Probably for the same reason they aren’t using mobile Internet: the usability just isn’t there.

Have you tried mobile search?

“Out there on the Web are fantastic services you might want mobile access to,” said Jessica Figueras, research director for wireless software at the London-based consultancy Ovum. “The problem is how to access them. Anything built for the normal Web is going to be pretty much not very usable.”

Most websites don’t display properly on the limited confines of a cell phone screen and, because mobile users make up such a small portion of site visitors, many designers don’t bother to design mobile-friendly sites. Even when designers do create sites catering to mobile users, getting regular visitors is rare.

The few successful search services only offer a limited amount of information to mobile searchers. Yahoo! Mobile adopts this approach, allowing searches to access only certain content on Yahoo!, rather than the vast amount of online information PC users may access.

Meanwhile, Google is teaming up with Singapore’s MobileOne to provide its own version of mobile search. However, aside from that, Google has been known for its silence regarding its mobile search plans.

If there is a future for mobile search, any signs of what’s next will probably come from Asia, analysts believe. In Asia, mobile phones are rapidly evolving with innovative technologies making displays more advanced, offering color in higher resolutions. The result, according to Asia Pacific Research Group, is an interest in content rather than voice.

Even if traditional search is slow to catch on, Figueras believes at least some forms of search will become popular – mainly, searches for what’s already popular among mobile phone users: ringtones and graphics.

Discuss this article at WebProWorld, the WebProNews forum.

Brittany Thompson is an administrator for WebProWorld.com and contributes to the Insider Reports with her regular articles and interviews.

Mobile Search Slow to Catch On
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