Search Has Gone Mobile

That morning session on search that Don reported was a tame warm-up to what we had after lunch. We had to hang on to our seats to keep up with the fast pace of this dynamic duo touring the world of mobile search—Megan Fox and Gary Price. We can expect some 240 million U.S. mobile subscribers by 2010. There’s a ton of content out there being generated just for mobile devices—simplified, mobile-optimized pages—but it’s still just a small subset. So there are services (like Skweezer) that will squish down Web pages to fit. Mobile searchers are very goal oriented and their searches tend to be mostly one word. You can expect to see advertising in exchange for free services.

They said, don’t forget that we info pros are years ahead of some of our patrons—but we could be informing and leading them – for example, try msn.mobi. It’s one of the new crop of .mobi sites that are now available. Here are some of the big players:

– note that there’s no search box on home page; it has a menu to pick the category first (weather, maps, directions, business listings, Web search, etc)

Here are some of the newer sites they mentioned:

  • 4info
  • medio – bills itself as an answer engine 
  • http://find.mobi – a meta search engine to find mobi sites

 And this was cool– photo mobile search…use a phone to take a photo of something, like a place or a barcode, which then runs a search for you, e.g., mobot. Semapedia.org lets you connect Wikipedia knowledge with relevant places in physical space (a barcode type symbol will trigger the search).

Analysts predict that spoken/voice search is likely to be an $11 billion business by next year. They rattled off an amazing list of new companies and services – evoca, utterz, callwave, spinvox, etc…. And, for those who can’t afford Internet service on their mobile devices, text messaging to a phone is an option. Wow, this was a fun and eye-opening session. Many of these are companies I’d not heard of.

Links to the sites mentioned by Megan will be available on www.web.simmons.edu/~fox/mobile. Gary’s are at digbig.com/4twhh.

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief
Information Today, Inc.

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