While working recently on a project for the Singapore government on mobile speech and search technologies, I happened to do an intensive research on the what it takes for mobile search to be successful. The questions that I was seeking answers to were
- Can current internet search behemoths like Google, Yahoo and MSN just port their search engines onto the mobile platform and be assured that mobile phone users will embrace it just as well as they did over the computer?
- What is that key difference that one has to grapple with when they offer search facilities over the mobile phone?
Intrigued, by this single finding, I decided to test out for myself some of the offerings by small startups in India. Quite interesting. How did they adhere to the Golden rule. All of them limited the scope of their searches. Their reasoning went something like this
- The mobile user wants something of use to him when he is on the move. The rest can wait.
- What the mobile user typically wants on the move is what an yellow pages offers
- Provide the most relevant search for the user keyword by further localising the searches as per city/locality
When I clicked on Restaurants, it immediately showed me the restaurant that was on my mind as the firstAsk Laila is another search engine that produces equally good results
Mumbai based JustDial too offers similar services that is accessible via mobile phone and SMS too. I was however disappointed with the results that came out of the servive when I searched for the Queens restaurant. The search just suggested 50 more categories for me to browse through. What do they expect me to do while on the move in the middle of a busy junction?...Browse through their categories ?
TeliBrahma is yet another service called Genie that offers a small java based download onto your mobile phone that assists in searches.
Mobile searches are surely the next big thing and it will be interesting to see who emerges the winner.