Google is now reporting that it is seeing a rapid increase in mobile Internet search and usage on several platforms. According to an interview with Reuters, Google mobile product manager Matt Waddell said, “We have very much hit a watershed moment in terms of mobile Internet usage. We are seeing that mobile Internet use is in fact accelerating.”
In particular, Waddell reported that the iPhone drives “as many as 50 times more Web searches” vs. standard, so-called feature phones. According to data released yesterday by M:Metrics, roughly 85 percent of iPhone users access the mobile internet and almost 60 percent perform mobile web search. These numbers are dramatic and outstrip usage on other smartphones as well.
One of the ways that Google has helped boost mobile search on other platforms is through a Google search plug-in that puts a search box on the “home screen” of the phone and reduces the time it takes to get there and get results. It doesn’t require the user to launch a browser to start searching. Here’s a video comparing the “before and after” operation of the plug-in on the Symbian platform:
Google also offers the search plug-in for Blackberry devices and, according to the Reuters piece, it’s introducing a version for the Windows Mobile platform that will become available here. (Here’s the Google Blog post on it.)
Faster search translates directly into more search usage, which in turn means more consumer loyalty and more monetization opportunities for Google. Mobile consumer surveys array the various companies in mobile search in a similar hierarchy to what exists on the desktop: Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc. in that order. However, the market-share distribution is generally not skewed as heavily in Google’s favor, indicating that mobile search is still up for grabs.