Megan Fox continued her coverage of mobile devices in the Searching track. Mobile searchers have specific information they are looking for, such as facts or answers. They don’t want to look at lists of hits. So searches tend to be just one word–very quick and direct. The major search engines generally present sites like weather, maps, and events first. Lots of searches are geographically oriented: local sites near you.
Many times, mobile search means turning to the traditional search engines (Google, MSN Live, and Yahoo) but using them for finding, not searching. There are 3 types of search tools: on deck (search button on “desktop”), off deck (open browser, go to search engine), and applications (the device comes preloaded with separate searching software). Google found that people using a downloaded application, they get results 40% quicker and do 20% more searches.
Yahoo! has developed some advanced mobile search features, such as OnePlace (a shortcut to common search topics) and OneSearch (a special interface designed for the BlackBerry). Yahoo! is trying to have phone manufactures pre-download their application into new phones. Google is counting on its market leadership and familiarity to searchers and trusting that searchers will access their service, even if Yahoo! was pre-loaded on their phone.
Sometimes searches can be done with an image, so you don’t have to enter the information with your fingers. You can even photograph bar codes and receive the product information. For example, in Japan, MacDonald’s placemats have codes on them, and when you take a picture, you get nutritional information! If you take a picture of a well known scene, photo recognition can provide you with hyperlinks to information about it. We already have voice-activated speed dialing, but some search software can be used to input searches. (See my report on Megan’s talk this morning for more on these technologies.)
Given the emphasis on social networking, it should be no surprise that social sites especially for mobile phones have been developed.
Searching will never be the same!
Columnist, Information Today and CIL 2009 Blog Coordinator