interesting write-up today on contenders in the mobile phone search industry. They point out that the Mobile Web is still a nascent technology. Well, to be frank it's in the middle of a power struggle between telcos and standards bodies - which doesn't help us users very much in the short-term. But on the other hand, growing markets like China and Japan have a relatively high mobile-to-PC ratio. So the Mobile Web is going to be huge, therefore it makes sense that we'll need search engines specifically for mobile.Business 2.0 has an
According to Jaimee Minney from research firm M:Metric, "pure plays" will be a real challenge to the big Internet guns like Google and Yahoo. In other words, this market is wide open and a dark horse could gallop off with the dominant product - just like Google did with the PC Web 5-6 years ago.
Answers and not links are the key requirement, says Business 2.0:
"While Google and Yahoo are trying to extend their Web search engines into the wireless world, mobile search startups like 4Info and Promptu are trying to make the most of what people use cell phones for today -- voice calls and text messages.
4Info, a Palo Alto, Calif. startup, is aiming to popularize text messaging as a way to search the Web, presuming that cell-phone users want quick answers rather than page after page of search results. By sending text messages to 4Info's designated shortcode -- an abbreviated phone number used for information services -- users can receive sports scores, weather reports, flight information, and even package-tracking data. 4Info plans to sell keyword-related advertising, and has struck a deal with Gannett (Research) to promote its text-message services in the pages of USA Today."
However VCs seem skeptical and are still waiting for the "killer app in mobile search".
Meanwhile Google has its own Google Mobile product - and Yahoo and MSN have theirs too. Even Nokia has mobile search. Microsoft also has Windows Live Search beta for mobile devices, but the number 1 use case is: "Search the Web just like you would on a PC". And that's the point - all of these bigco services just bring up results from mobile versions of websites and services. There's not a lot of innovation going on with the big Internet companies. Just as you couldn't just copy desktop apps to the Web and expect them to succeed, you can't just transfer Web search to mobile devices. So in that sense, I feel there is an opportunity for small mobile search startups to do something different - really capture the essence of the Mobile Web (whatever that happens to be!).
What are some of the innovative mobile search startups that you're aware of?