Spotted over the weekend by Garrett Rogers, Google has quietly introduced a new, experimental mobile interface called “LCB” that emphasizes browsing instead of search. Something of a radical approach for Google, which is synonymous with search, the site allows users to get to results in top “local search” categories such as restaurants, travel, transportation, retail, entertainment, and sports without having to enter a query. Most results are two clicks down.
Mysteriously, the Googleplex is one of the top-level categories, which suggests this was designed, at least initially, for internal use.
Even on smartphones, keying in search queries can be painful. According to data from mobile search provider JumpTap, most users are entering no more than two words and the majority are entering a single word into the mobile search box. Accordingly, browsing is a very useful navigational paradigm in mobile in ways that it no longer is online because of the ease and utility of search.
What Google will do with this is unclear right now. It will probably watch how users interact with the interface and, if deemed a success, may modify its main WAP site accordingly. By contrast, Google recently introduced a search plug in for Windows Mobile phones (previously available for Symbian and Blackberry phones) that puts a search box on the home screen of mobile users and makes mobile searching faster.
I have some additional discussion and thoughts about the “LCB” interface at Local Mobile Search.