RealTime IT News

Mobile Search on Cusp of Explosion?

Five years from now search will be a key application for one third of the globe's mobile device users, according to a new report from Juniper Research.

Of the expected 4.2 billion owners of mobile devices expected by 2013, roughly 1.3 billion will depend on mobile device searches to find and locate "local" digital information. Most searches will happen in North America and Western Europe as the countries boast good local digital information suppliers (think yellow and white pages) as well as mapping data with good coverage of points of interest, according to the report.

The trend bodes well for Web search firms. For advertising boutiques and marketers looking for signs of the mobile search market's growth, the report could be manna. Of course, all these growth expectations are built on a good user experience, the firm noted.

Search engine companies and online service providers are already making serious moves in anticipation. Yahoo and AOL are just two that recently announced initiatives tied to mobile device applications and development programs.

Total mobile search revenues are predicted to reach $4.8 billion by 2013 though Juniper warns of potential "advertising overload" that could act as a disincentive and ultimately limit adoption. That, in addition to continuing public concern about the use of online personal data, could impact mobile search adoption as well.

One trend propelling mobile search is the growth of the handheld marketplace. Research firm Strategy Analytics predicts 290 million mobile handsets will be sold this quarter, an increase of 12 percent compared to the second quarter of 2007.

"Mobile broadband development and the gradual reduction in data costs has encouraged a greater proportion of mobile users to surf the mobile Internet, as has the breakdown of operator “walled gardens,” John Levett, Juniper's marketing and business development executive, told InternetNews.com. In addition, an increasing operator and vendor focus on ease of service usage has stimulated growth.

"The increased interest in mobile advertising, combined with a greater degree of Mobile Web 2.0 activity, are also factors encouraging adoption," Levett added.

While adoption will be mostly in Western Europe and North America, Juniper said the demographics could change as network connectivity expands.

"We will see a marked increase in adoption in many developing markets where the fixed broadband infrastructure is limited and mobile becomes the de facto means of accessing the Internet."