Several weeks ago, I asked readers to take a quick mobile user survey to get a snapshot of mobile search usage among Search Engine Land readers. It was a brief survey that sought only high-level information. We had 75 people respond to the survey, which I’ve presented in its entirety below.
The results cannot be generalized and shouldn’t be seen as representative of anything other than the opinions and behavior of the self-selected group of respondents. In addition, the SEL respondents should probably be regarded as “early adopters” who are ahead of the general marketplace. The audience was largely male and generally under 50, with the largest concentration of respondents in the 31-40 age range. About two-thirds of respondents were from North America.
Several of the findings are worth noting. In particular, almost 57 percent of respondents said they “access the mobile Internet.” And 47 percent said they did so “more than once a week,” with a full 25 percent saying “at least once daily.” This is clearly “ahead of the curve.” While there were several reasons selected by those who didn’t access the mobile Internet, the top two were “the screen on my phone is too small” and “the network is too slow,” in that order.
Among mobile search engines used by respondents, a full 90 percent said that they used Google, while 20 percent said they used Yahoo. Ask and Microsoft were tied with 8 percent.
Finally, we asked about usage of the “free” directory assistance or voice search services. About 30 percent of respondents said they used them, with GOOG411 dominating with 74 percent and 1-800-Free-411 showing some strength at 21 percent. This finding in particular is at odds with the “mainstream” audience, where 1-800-Free-411 is the best known among the alternatives to traditional mobile 411. But the finding shows that Google is growing and has the capacity to develop significant usage in this area.
Again, these results must be taken with caution and not generalized to the population as a whole. But directionally, they are interesting and instructive:
What sort of mobile phone do you currently own?
- Conventional cell phone — 58.7%
- Traditional smartphone (e.g., BlackBerry, Treo) — 30.7%
- iPhone — 10.7%
Indicate how many of the following you do with your mobile phone (multiple answers permitted):
- Send and receive text/SMS messages — 97.2%
- Access the mobile Internet — 56.9%
- Use downloaded applications (e.g., Mapquest Navigator, Google Maps for Mobile) — 36.1%
How frequently do you access the mobile Internet?
- Never — 33.8%
- Once a month or less — 13.5%
- Two-three times a month – 5.4%
- More than once a week — 21.6%
- At least once daily – 25.7%
If you don’t access the Internet on your mobile phone, why not (multiple answers permitted)?
- 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%
Which of the following mobile search engines/sites do you use (multiple answers permitted)?
- Ask – 8%
- AOL – 0%
- Google – 90%
- Microsoft Live Search/MSN – 8%
- Yahoo oneSearch/Go – 20%
Do you use any of the free directory assistance options?
- Yes – 29%
- No – 71%
If you use any of the free directory assistance options, which one(s):
- Goog411 — 73.9%
- 1-800-YellowPages (AT&T) – 8.7%
- 1-800-Call-411 (Microsoft) – 8.7%
- 1-800-Free-411 – 21.7%
Indicate your gender
- Female – 24%
- Male — 76%
Indicate your age
- 18-24 — 17.3%
- 25-30 — 25.3%
- 31-40 — 41.3%
- 41-50 — 12%
- 51-60 — 4%
Where do you reside?
- US/North America — 65.3%
- Europe — 25.3%
- Asia — 9.3%
Greg Sterling is the founding principal of Sterling Market Intelligence and a senior analyst at Opus Research’s Local Mobile Search program. He publishes Screenwerk, a blog focusing on the relationship between the Internet and traditional media, with an emphasis on the local search marketplace. The Locals Only column appears on Mondays at Search Engine Land.