Comparing Mobile Search Surveys: Early Adopters Vs. Mainstream Users

I conducted a very informal, online Search Engine Land reader survey several weeks ago on a range of high-level topics pertaining to mobile search. The ultimate number of responses from SEL readers was a small sample of 77. Mike Blumethal, a contributor to SEL who writes the Understanding Google Maps & Yahoo Local blog, thought it would be interesting to conduct this same survey with readers of his newsletter, which is generally an older audience of several thousand people mostly living in rural, Upstate New York. We used the identical online survey and obtained 124 total responses over the course of a couple of weeks in December, 2007.

Below is a side by side comparison of the two sets of responses and some comments by me. But before taking a look and jumping to any conclusions, you should understand that none of these responses should be generalized to the entire marketplace or necessarily seen as reflective of larger trends. They are simply a snapshot of two different samples, which are both small and specific.

WHAT SORT OF MOBILE PHONE DO YOU CURRENTLY OWN? SEL sample:

• Conventional cell phone — 57.1% • Traditional smartphone (e.g., BlackBerry, Treo) — 32.5% • iPhone — 10.4%

Upstate New York Sample:

• Conventional cell phone — 88.9% • Traditional smartphone (e.g., BlackBerry, Treo) — 11.1% • iPhone — 0%

Note: A much smaller percentage of the Upstate New York sample owns a smartphone.

INDICATE HOW MANY OF THE FOLLOWING YOU DO WITH YOUR MOBILE PHONE (MULTIPLE ANSWERS PERMITTED):

SEL respondents:

• Send and receive text/SMS messages — 97.3% • Access the mobile Internet — 58.1% • Use downloaded applications (e.g., Mapquest Navigator, Google Maps for Mobile) — 37.8%

Upstate New York Sample:

• Send and receive text/SMS messages — 91.9% • Access the mobile Internet — 23% • Use downloaded applications (e.g., Mapquest Navigator, Google Maps for Mobile) — 12.2%

Note: The text-messaging percentage is roughly equivalent, despite the considerable differences between these audiences otherwise. Also, for this population, a relatively large percentage (23 percent) access the mobile internet.

HOW FREQUENTLY DO YOU ACCESS THE MOBILE INTERNET?

SEL respondents:

• Never — 32.9% • Once a month or less — 13.2% • Two-three times a month – 6.6% • More than once a week — 22.4% • At least once daily – 25%

Upstate New York Sample:

• Never — 85.8% • Once a month or less — 5% • Two-three times a month – 5.8% • More than once a week — 1.7% • At least once daily – 1.7%

Note: While 54 percent of the SEL respondents said they accessed the mobile internet “two or three times a month” at least, roughly 86 percent of the Upstate New York sample said they “never” did.

IF YOU DON’T ACCESS THE INTERNET ON YOUR MOBILE PHONE, WHY NOT (MULTIPLE ANSWERS PERMITTED)?

SEL respondents:

• Keying in queries is frustrating — 45% • The network is too slow — 52.5% • The screen on my phone is too small — 57.5% • I don’t have a mobile Internet plan — 45%

Upstate New York Sample:

• Keying in queries is frustrating — 20.7% • The network is too slow — 5.7% • The screen on my phone is too small — 14.9% • I don’t have a mobile Internet plan — 78.2%

Note: The most striking comparison point here is the large majority of the Upstate New York sample who said they didn’t have a mobile internet plan. And because more SEL readers are using the mobile internet, they’re experiencing the frustrations of doing so more fully.

WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING MOBILE SEARCH ENGINES/SITES DO YOU USE (MULTIPLE ANSWERS PERMITTED)?

SEL respondents:

• Ask – 9.6% • AOL – 0% • Google – 90.4% • Microsoft Live Search/MSN – 7.7% • Yahoo oneSearch/Go – 19.2%

Upstate New York Sample:

• Ask – 15.7% • AOL – 3.9% • Google – 78.4% • Microsoft Live Search/MSN – 25.5% • Yahoo oneSearch/Go – 43.1%

Note: The Upstate New York responses to this question are much more diversified than the SEL responses, which are dominated by Google. This suggests that there’s new opportunity in mobile search to expand beyond the core user base on the desktop.

DO YOU USE ANY OF THE FREE DIRECTORY ASSISTANCE OPTIONS?

SEL respondents:

• Yes – 28.2% • No – 71.8%

Upstate New York Sample:

• Yes – 25.4% • No – 74.6%

Note: A separate survey (yet to be released) conducted by Local Mobile Search (n=671 US adults) found that 24 percent of respondents had used “free 411″ services, while 76 percent had not. The results immediately above are generally consistent with that larger survey.

IF YOU USE ANY OF THE FREE DIRECTORY ASSISTANCE OPTIONS, WHICH ONE(S):

SEL respondents:

• Goog411 — 73.9% • 1-800-YellowPages (AT&T) – 8.7% • 1-800-Call-411 (Microsoft) – 8.7% • 1-800-Free-411 – 21.7%

Upstate New York Sample:

• Goog411 — 29.6% • 1-800-YellowPages (AT&T) – 25.9% • 1-800-Call-411 (Microsoft) – 14.8% • 1-800-Free-411 – 44.4%

Note: As with mobile search engine usage, the Upstate New York responses are more distributed than those from the SEL audience. However, the larger Local Mobile Search survey (mentioned above) found that 1-800-Free-411 had a 66 percent usage/market share vs. 5.5 percent for Goog411. Google has advertised the service in outdoor ads in the Upstate New York area, which may have had a positive impact on usage in that region. However, there are also encouraging signs for Microsoft’s 1-800-Call-411, which hasn’t been promoted much.

INDICATE YOUR GENDER:

SEL respondents:

• Female – 24% • Male — 76%

Upstate New York Sample:

• Female – 39.2% • Male — 60.8%

INDICATE YOUR AGE:

SEL respondents:

• 18-24 — 17.3% • 25-30 — 25.3% • 31-40 — 41.3% • 41-50 — 12% • 51-60 — 4%

Upstate New York Sample:

• 18-24 — 1.6% • 25-30 — 3.2% • 31-40 — 9.7% • 41-50 — 25% • 51-60 — 33.9% • Over 60 – 26.6%

Note: Roughly 83 percent of SEL respondents were under 40; however almost 86 percent of the Upstate New York respondents were over 40.

WHERE DO YOU RESIDE?

SEL respondents:

• US/North America — 65.3% • Europe — 25.3% • Asia — 9.3%

Upstate New York Sample:

• US/North America — 97.1% • Europe — 1.5% • Asia — 1.5%

Again, you shouldn’t generalize these data but it’s interesting to compare and contrast these two very different sample populations in their responses to the same questions.

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile | Search Engines: Mobile Search Engines | Stats: General | Stats: Search Behavior

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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