Yesterday Microsoft announced a number of content upgrades and changes to its local search for mobile devices, which include reviews, one-click directions, interactive maps, photos, and so on. There’s more specific detail on the Virtual Earth blog. All the major search engines are now offering blended search results on their mobile-friendly sites. (As an aside, these mobile search results are not unlike “universal search” on the desktop.)
Yahoo’s oneSearch WAP site was the clear leader when it launched, but Google quickly modified its mobile search results to respond to the “blended” presentation of multiple content types (local, Web, news, images). AOL’s mobile/WAP site has also improved considerably. But now Microsoft’s Live Search for mobile, perhaps by a nose, has become the most feature-rich of the mobile search sites.
Here are some screenshots of the new Live Search for WAP:
To be clear, these mobile search sites are not to be confused with the rich client applications that each of the search engines offers for mobile (AOL’s MyMobile isn’t yet out, however):
The area of weakness for the otherwise very strong Microsoft products is probably the database, which will certainly improve over time.
The market share of each of the search engines in mobile generally corresponds (though isn’t identical) to the desktop: Google leads, followed by Yahoo and Microsoft. There is an opportunity, however, for Yahoo or Microsoft to create products that will bring them to parity with (or perhaps exceed) Google in terms of market share in this less-established arena. The challenge, of course, is that Google is equally focused on building very user-friendly mobile offerings (My Location is an example.)
Overall, however, this intensifying competition is rapidly creating some very impressive mobile search capabilities and products across the engines.