iPhone 5 Won’t Change Mobile Search, But Can Nokia?
With the launch of the iPhone 5, perhaps the most eagerly awaited electronics launch ever, speculation has been rampant on the impact it’ll have on the mobile phone market, on Apple’s future as an innovator post-Steve Jobs, and on the coolness of the next gadget to get dropped into your pocket.
But from a mobile search perspective, iPhone 5 is pretty much more of the same.
A more effective version of Siri will be standard in the new phone’s iOS 6 – but that was a game changer from the iPhone 4s.
iPhone 5 has certainly caused a sales storm, pushing more smartphones into more pockets. But from a marketer’s perspective, that’s old news: the smartphone installed base is already growing by leaps and bounds, so an added leap (or bound) doesn’t change your outlook on the industry.
New Players Could Change The Game
The launch of Nokia’s new Windows-based smartphones earlier this month was eagerly anticipated by… not nearly as many people. But it may have a more measureable impact on the mobile search space, because it heralds the launch of Windows Phone 8 on a device custom-built to accomodate it.
Microsoft is once again running its playbook: Use market muscle to introduce a product in a new space. Then fine-tune it until it becomes relevant and useful to a broad audience. Windows, XBox, and Bing all grew-up in that house, raised by a parent that gave them plenty of time to mature.
With the arrival of Windows Phone 8, Microsoft’s mobile OS is finally hitting prime time. The refinements have been made, the apps are available, and now Nokia is making devices that literally match the OS (right down to the on-screen tiles matching the color of the case.)
Why Do We Care?
The reason, of course, is that Microsoft is bundling Bing into every nook and cranny of the new WP8 phones. Not just a search widget, but a bevy of functions working to bring useful information to the phone’s owner. Some of the more significant ones to marketers include:
- Bing Local Deals, drawing deal info from partner Scoupon.
- A search box available from the lock screen, enabling more spontaneous searching.
- Nokia City Lens: An augmented reality feature for walking through a city, with everything in view of your camera tagged to idenfity what and where they are. Very much like the Yelp Monocle in their iPhone app, but built in as standard equipment.
Of course, as with any phone, you can install the search engine of your choice when you activate and configure your new phone. But with Bing’s tight integration in the device, and the fact that Bing holds its own against Google for relevant search results (*especially* in a messy post-Panda world) it’s likely that a lot of WP8 users will leave the defaults intact, sending a lot more mobile search traffic to Bing.
The Past Repeats
We’ve all seen this before: Microsoft defaults to Bing in a number of applications and web properties, and Google of course plays this strategy with Android and its default search box. So is this innovation? Nope.
But does it shift mobile search activity share to Bing, with every percentage point of market share that WP8 wins in the next 12 months? Absolutely.
This is good news for mobile search, and search marketing in general. Having a single player in search – even one as proficient as Google – is not healthy. With Bing’s new lifeline into the mobile world, we’ll see a more balanced distribution of searches, leading to more efficient PPC campaigns and (hopefully) a less Panda-rific SEO landscape.
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