Some great stuff to add to your required reading list: The Netsize Guide 2009 and three new mobile search white papers (two live -one slated for release following Mobile World Congress), all focused at some level on the extraordinary impact of iPhone on our search behavior). A highlight: Some surprising stats on search volume, and a sneak peek at Google’s voice search performance.
Gearing up for a whirlwind week in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress. Coverage on MSG will be thin (not enough time for deep-dive posts) but I assure you my follow-up analysis and in-depth video interviews will be worth the wait. Andrea Henninge – bless her! – has managed to squeeze in dozens of top-level interviews/briefings over the next five days at an average rate of one per hour – and even left me some time in the evenings for a few parties and get-togethers.
Top of the list is the launch party (Tuesday) for the Netsize Guide 2009, the 360-page mobile industry almanac I wrote on behalf of Netsize. Stan Chesnais, Netsize CEO, tells me it is the best one ever, and has already commissioned me to write next year’s (although we both struggle to think how we can top this one!).
If you are at Mobile World Congress (MWC), then don’t forget to pick up a paper copy. After the show, you can also download it for free on MSG. I look forward to your comments and feedback. I will continue to pursue this exciting theme (the morphing of the physical and virtual worlds with the mobile device at the center of this new convergence) on MSG, so watch for podcasts and video interviews that take this discussion to the next level.
And speaking of path-breaking, this week mobile search providers Taptu and Abphone debut their white papers on MSG.
I am honored that both companies asked me for input. In the case of Taptu, it’s a comment. Abphone, on the other hand, asked me for a complete foreword.
In fact, Pierre Scokaert, Abphone CEO, sent me a personal email to thank me for my work:
I did read your foreword, and found it very good. It adds a lot of weight to our paper, and having someone as highly regarded as you speak of Abphone is always an honor.
However, I am equally grateful for the opportunity to lend my voice to his – and would like to take the opportunity here to thank Pierre and Yann Mondon, who heads up Abphone’s public relations.
I don’t want to give away too much - and before my podcast with Pierre on precisely this topic – so here’s a short, high-level summary of the white paper, titled Snacking the Web.
In a nutshell, a shift in mobile search behavior (search has become a leisure activity, pursued in idle time and short sessions, and made popular by cutting-edge devices such as the iPhone) impacts how services can/should rank search results and determine relevancy. Abphone’s approach emphasizes click stream analysis, effectively drawing from the wisdom of crowds to determine which results users find relevant to the search queries, and ultimately improve rankings for future users.
In my view, this path-breaking approach borrows heavily from the insights outlined in Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software by Steven Johnson. Ants, Johnson writes, are not intelligent as single insects. But they develop a kind of collective intelligence – which he calls “emergent intelligence” – when they are interconnected in complex colonies.
In the case of mobile search, a single searcher, like an ant, can happen upon an excellent result. But there is no way for the searcher to leave a trail to benefit searchers who follow. As a result, each searcher must endure the same process (click distance) to find content they want. Abphone learns from its users, creating a feedback loop that potentially improves rankings for future users to deliver an overall positive user experience and help people find content they want in fewer clicks.
Allow me to close with my favorite quote from the abphone white paper: Pierre’s rant on Web transcoding
Take a gourmet meal, prepared by capable chefs, using only the finest ingredients. Then put everything in a blender and mix it into a pulp, as long as you need to, until you can drink it through a straw… This is what website transcoding is like.
I like it so much I have just added it to my slide deck for my presentation for the Qualcomm Plaza Internet Forum. The event now counts some 70 top-level attendees, and I am honored that Qualcomm feels the jump in attendance is due to my participation in it. Everywhere there are signs that MSG has indeed reached the tipping point…
I am also proud that Taptu has decided to debut its white paper, titled Touch Search: A New Vision For Mobile Search, on MSG. True to the name, the white paper examines the shift in mobile search since the advent of the iPhone.
However, Taptu does more than acknowledge this trend; it has responded with a roadmap to encourage the innovation that content providers and brands agencies will require to deliver an optimized search and advertising experience for touch devices. I’ll have more on this next week, after I have had the pleasure of meeting today (Monday) with Andreas Bernstrom, Taptu COO, and had a closer look at the Taptu’s prototype search services for the Touch Web.
A highlight of the white paper is this trio of industry predictions. (Methodology is explained in the white paper.)
1) Total global mobile search volume will grow rapidly from 63 million searches per day at the end of 2008 to 620 million in 2012 – almost 10 fold growth in just four years.
2) The volume of searches from touch phones will grow even faster, to overtake the volume of searches from normal phones by the end of this year.
3) By 2012, over 75 percent of all mobile searches will come from touch phones alone, representing less than 10 percent of the installed base of phones and just 20 percent of annual shipments.
A root question to consider: Will we have one Web (the Internet)? Or two (the Internet, and made-for-mobile sites)? Or three! (the Internet, the mobile websites, and the Touch Web)…
No one has the answers, but Taptu is preparing now for the challenges ahead.
My thanks again to Steve Ives, Taptu CEO, and Bob Last, Taptu Head of Business Development, for providing me the opportunity to contribute to the white paper.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to give you a sneak peak of the next white paper in the pipeline: a joint project with Peggy Albright, founder of Albright : Research : Media, assessing the performance of voice search services on the iPhone.
The white paper – which roadtests ChaCha, Google, and Vlingo — will launch in the week following MWC and be available for download on MSG. I have already twittered about some of the findings (they were too amazing to keep under wraps)…
Let’s just say that Google underwhelmed us – on all counts.
Disclaimer: ChaCha sponsored the white paper. The opinions in the white paper reflect those of Peggy Albright and Peggy Anne Salz, and do not reflect the opinions of the organizations referenced in the research.