What do you get when you bring together the intellectual resources of Rudy De Waele/ mTrends and dotopen, an open innovation consulting firm known for its insights into the emerging mobile Web 2.0 ecosystem, and MSearchGroove, a knowledge resource dedicated to the analysis of mobile search (and all things mobile at the intersection of context and content)? In a word, impact!
Since teaming up with Rudy De Waele, blogger at mTrends and dotopen founder, to develop mobile search case studies in preparation for a workshop on Mobile Search Future Prospects organized by JRC IPTS (Institute for Prospective Technological Studies of the European Commission), and seeing the positive response to our work to date, I’m convinced mobile search is back again at the top of the industry agenda. And with good reason: Search is the de facto interface to all things digital in the online space, and there is every indication that it will be the same in mobile.
From mobile advertising, where our queries trigger the delivery of related advertising (in the best case scenario, we’re not there yet), to social media, where the content we appreciate and discuss across destinations ranging from MySpace to Twitter allows us to restore balance in an otherwise purely algorithmic approach that tends to promote search engine optimized websites over what we find genuinely relevant and useful, mobile search is where the action is.
But as Rudy and I have both pointed out in our recent presentations, mobile search is not about the usual suspects (Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft). Rudy spoke at Next09, and you can find his slides further on in this post; I spoke at the European Mobile Media Conference, and my deck can likewise be found after the jump.
Indeed, context and personalization change all the rules (!)
A highlight of our recent presentations: A comprehensive overview of the market and (thanks to Rudy) a SWOT analysis of the players that stand out in their category such as Google (universal search with a poor mobile offer and an even weaker grasp of social search), and Twitter (a case of mobile search + social media = real-time results that really reflect what we discuss/share).
In my own mobile search research – an on-going project that began back in 2004/2005 when I wrote the first report on mobile search and content discovery, a 220+ page report published by Informa Telecoms & Media – I have recently identified some 60+ companies and 10+ categories of mobile search I would like to share with you (below) for your feedback.
- Text: ChaCha, 4INFO,MINFO, textperts (acquired by 118118), Answers.com, AnyQuestionAnswered, Ask, AskMeNow
- Voice: Google, Yahoo, Vlingo, Microsoft, ChaCha (Watch this space for an expert assessment of the voice-enabled services offered by Google, Vlingo, and ChaCha. ( I am proud to have had the opportunity to collaborate with Peggy Albright, MSG Associate and founder of Albright Communications, and even prouder of the results.)
- Visual: IQ Engines, Kooaba, Mobile Acuity, Searchme, SnapNow, SnapTell, Tin Eye Mobile, Nokia
- Navigational: Boopsie, kannuu, Nuance (through Tegic acquisition)
- Universal: Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL (based on Google), Medio Systems, JumpTap (although a much stronger focus on mobile advertising)
- Federated: MCN, Motricity (managed mobile search platform providers)
- Operator-centric search: Amdocs, Qualcomm, IBM and this company coming out of stealth mode
- Alternative search: Defined as every service except for Google, and includes a long tail of 1500+ search engines (tracked by AltSearchEngines) with ambitions to go mobile – some sooner than later
- Vertical/content-specific search: abphone, vtap, Truveo
- Local search: Hundreds of players that offer local search via SMS services, on their own WAP sites, and/or as part of a nearby shopping scheme. (Fortunately, the local mobile search landscape is the topic of an upcoming column on MSG from Martin Wilson, founder of Indigo 102, an independent consultancy with a focus on mobile local search and services, so watch this space!)
- abphone, ChaCha, Hiogi, Taptu
- Twitter in a class by itself!
It’s work in progress, but it’s all the more exciting if we remember that – in mobile search – the players that matter and the business models that deliver are wide open to discussion.
Indeed, the central role of mobile search in a wide variety of mobile services around sharing, advertising, location, and context-aware activities turns up the pressure on an even broader range of businesses (operators, brands, agencies, enablers – everyone!) to understand what mobile search delivers (and doesn’t) and the companies/models that do it best.
To help mobile professionals and practitioners navigate this tough terrain, Rudy and I have joined together on a project to produce the definitive mobile search market overview, a work that will draw from primary research, case studies, and exclusive forecasts to document this exciting space and present our recommendations for strategies to harness growth opportunities on the horizon.
I still have the opportunity to take your views and perspectives into account, and I would welcome your input. The project, widely distributed via our sites and via our network of sites, supporters, and influencers, will also offer a commercial opportunity to companies interested in conveying their value proposition to a growing community of senior executives and decision-makers in the mobile space.
If you are a mobile search company with an interest in being considered for an interview, please contact me directly or send an email to my assistant Andrea Henninge (email@example.com).