November 12, 2012

Can Google compete in the next frontier: mobile search?

People are already using highly specific apps on their smartphones, rather than traditional search engines to find information. Yet, this doesn’t actually mean people aren’t searching on their mobile device, it only means they aren’t using Google to do so.

For example, suppose you are shopping for an outfit for an upcoming holiday party and want to get a sense of what kinds of new styles are available in your favorite stores. Does your online search begin with Google or your favorite store’s website? Or, image you are in transit on your way to now buy the outfit from your favorite store and you want to double check your bank funds before purchasing. Do you type in your bank’s name to the Google search bar, or do you tap on your banking app to access your bank account?

Increasingly, the answers to these questions do not involve a traditional search engine. As our lives become a bundle of digital data — online and on our mobile devices — we’re approaching the next generation of access to information; a new form of search and discovery. This new phase is all about the Internet growing up and starting to provide the same kind of service we get when we’re offline. With data consumption and data creation growing by the minute, search and discovery must evolve to not only deliver specific keyword matches, but to offer a personalized experience based on the individual needs and wants of a user.

Consumers are beginning to require their search functionality to be more tailored to specific preferences and constraints, and hence, the app-centric world we live in today is beginning to take root. A recent Nielsen report shared that the average number of apps owned by a U.S. smartphone user is now at 41 — a rise of 28 percent on the 32 apps owned on average last year. To access our version of the information we’re looking for, we now tap on our shopping apps, our banking apps, our news apps, our entertainment apps, our social network apps.

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