Local Links of Interest

Verticalized mobile search wins over horizontal mobile search - Dev Khare, devkhare.com

Since (2005/6), I think Google and Yahoo! have cemented their lead in the horizontal mobile search space and Nokia has appeared as a strong contender, especially outside the US with its D2C strategy.   Google and Yahoo! have been duking it out across the world for mobile operator on-deck deals witness Yahoo’s Telefonica deal and Google’s NTT DoCoMo deal I don’t know the exact numbers but I believe live/automated paid directory assistance (which is also mobile search in a broader sense) offered by the mobile operators has also suffered at the hands of mobile local search, mobile horizontal search and free directory assistance – I have heard second-hand rumors that free directory assistance might have taken 5-7% of share away from paid directory assistance.

Many of the mobile search companies have added a greater emphasis on mobile advertising; mobile search has broadened out to include local search (especially with the popularity of GPS-enabled mobile devices), controlled search (searching for media/content in your phone’s file system), and voice search; and verticalized mobile search has gained prominence.  

So will the future bring the dominance of horizontal mobile search or will verticalized search continue to hold its own? How will mobile search evolve different in carrier-controlled markets (e.g. US) versus more open markets? What modes of search will dominate (browser, client, SMS, voice, in-car)? What effect will the iPhone/Android have on mobile search?  Does the online model of ads alongside mobile search results work in a mobile setting?

Apple iPhone 3G sales surpass RIM’s Blackberry

Apple announced quarterly iPhone sales that surpassed those of BlackBerry maker Research in Motion by nearly a million and a half units or 25%: nearly 6.9 million iPhones versus 5.4 million BlackBerry units in the third calendar quarter of 2008. Apple has become the third larger cell phone manufacture by volume and at least according to Jobs, is happy with one model for now.

When asked why Apple only has one product offering in the vast smartphone market and what further opportunities for innovation or “other market opportunities within that market” Apple might have, Jobs replied, “I wasn’t alive then, but from everything I’ve heard, Babe Ruth only had one home run. He just kept hitting it over and over again.

“I think that the traditional game in the phone market has been to produce a voice phone in a hundred different varieties. But as software starts to become the differentiating technology of this product category, I think that people are going to find that a hundred variations presented to a software developer is not very enticing. And most of the competitors in this phone business do not really have much experience in a software platform business.”

“So we’re extremely comfortable with our product strategy going forward, and we approach it as a software platform company, which is pretty different than most of our competitors.”

 
Introducing the Gears Geolocation API for all laptop WiFi users – Charles Wiles, Product Manager, Google Mobile Team

Accurate, geolocation is rapidly becoming available on a broad range of mobile and desktop devices. The ability to know where a user is physically located within 200m accuracy  portends a change in both what and how local content is delivered. 

When we originally proposed the Gears Geolocation API our goal was to make it easy for developers to deliver location enabled web sites on mobile phones. However we realized laptop users would benefit from location enabled web sites too. Today we are adding WiFi signals to the Geolocation API so that laptop users can benefit from location enabled web sites for the first time and mobile users from the increased accuracy. And because the Geolocation API is the same for developers in both desktop and mobile browsers you can even use the same code on both platforms!

In Chrome and Android, with Gears built in, you can deliver a location enabled web site without requiring your users to install a plug-in, but in other browsers they will need to go through a simple plug-in install process. We also submitted a simplified version of the Geolocation API as a WC3 specification and the upcoming Firefox 3.1 plans to support the W3C version directly. The Gears Geolocation API is completely free to developers and users through the default Google location provider.

New KML Interactive Sampler – Roman Nurik, Google Geo APIs Team, googlegeodevelopers.blogspot.com

For those of you wanting to dig a bit deeper into KML…

To the 99.9% of us who don’t know everything there is to know about KML, and have been looking for a way to explore this curious littlelanguage, I present a new learning and exploration tool called the KML Interactive Sampler. One caveat, though — since the sampler uses the Earth Browser Plug-in and API, the Earth view will currently only work on Windows.

Mac folks… be patient, a seriously awesome Mac version of the plugin is in the works!

Search Engines are Re-Shaping Hotel Booking Funnels – Emeka Ajene, .compete.com

Aided by the work of search engine optimization and marketing specialists, hotel shoppers who input certain brand and location keywords into Google and other search engines often land on hotel property pages. These consumers bypass the top of the traditional hotel conversion funnel (the homepage and search results pages) and the marketing, loyalty, “brand experience” and core value messaging that occurs therein. Moreover, these shoppers interact first with hotel property pages that are often not optimized to serve as the brand’s point of introduction to the user.

As one measure of the prevalence of this behavior, Compete examined the percentage of Google-referred unique visitor traffic to hotel property pages at 6 hotel supplier sites since January 2007. It is first apparent that there is a relatively steep upwards trend through the 20 month period for most sites tracked. In August 2008, among these sites, 27% of hotel property page traffic came immediately from Google on average, up from 18% in January 2007. In addition, during this same time period, hotel property page traffic among these sites is up 28%. Thus, not only is the percentage of Google (and other search) referred unique visitor traffic to hotel property pages increasing but the number of unique visitors viewing hotel property pages is increasing as well.

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