September 20, 2007
Mobile Phone Web Users Nearly Equal PC Based Internet Users in Japan
53.6 Million Japanese Use Mobile Phones to Access the Internet – Email is the Most Popular Mobile Web Activity
â€¢Interstingly 51% do Search/Navigation.
â€¢Time spent web browsing on mobile phones is still much lower than that spent on desktop PCâ€™s. Internet usage on mobile phones averages 8.1 hours per month versus 18.9 hours by PC -Adoption of web usage on mobile phones skews young. People under 34 years old account for 64 percent of mobile phone web users versus 45 percent of PC web users.
â€¢Despite these significant usage figures, consumer satisfaction remains low. Only 12.6 percent of respondents accessing the Internet via a mobile device stated that they were either â€œvery satisfiedâ€ or â€œsomewhat satisfiedâ€, with 52.1 percent stating that they were either â€œvery dissatisfiedâ€ or â€œsomewhat dissatisfiedâ€.
It is this last point that creates the opening for iPhone like devices. In yesterday’s WSJ an analyst noted that the iPhone faced considerably more competition in Europe than in the U.S. and thus might not do as well there. He noted that a phone with similar features was “free” with a contract. Certainly, Europe and Japan are ahead of the U.S. in the level of mobile web use, mobile technologies and speed of access. Europe will be a good test of whether those attributes trump usability. Given the stats in Japan and my personal experience (I fall in the “very dissatisfied” catergory), I would think not. “Free” is never a compelling value if it doesn’t work well.
At SES and again at the Tech40Crunch conference Marissa Meyers was quoted as saying that the iPhone has led to a continued surge in Google Maps usage. One could obviously infer from this that (no duh!) a well designed piece of mobile hardware, that is easy to use and has well integrated, pre-installed access to local search software would have an impact on increasing mobile local search. I have written before on the need for an iPhone like device to penetrate the market for the market to go anywhere.
But there be other possible take aways from these comments. One, it doesn’t take much to move Google Map’s relatively low usage higher. Apple has sold 1 million phones. Their goal is 10 million or 1% of the phone market. Thus with 1/10 of 1% of the market “the recent iPhone release brought numerous new consumers for the Google mobile solutions as its traffic was increased from 40 percent to 50 percent when it comes to Google Maps”. Thus somewhere under a million users led to a 50% increase in usage….hmmm
The other is that WAP, .mobi etc. have not had a similar impact despite plenty of opportunity. It seems to me that these technologies are at best stop gap measures until the real “mobile” web ala the iPhone/Google Mobile is more broadly deployed.
September 19, 2007
I drive 8 miles to work along NYS Route 16, down the hill known as Rock City, and past some incrediblly picturesque scenes as I head to my office in downtown Olean. The drive is rural and while Olean is called a city, it is a small (and getting smaller) rustbelt town of 15,000. It is 70 miles south of Buffalo, NY, 150 miles east of Cleveland and 150 miles north of Pittsburgh…it really is miles from nowhere (see this map), a market that most everyone forgets.
Everyone but Google it seems. Google has recently started placing billboards on our “main” north south road in their campaign for Goog-411, their free voice activated directory assistance service. Google has placed the billboard just south of town right after you pass the cemetery and just before you get to the breakfast hangout, The Robbin’s Nest. The road is not heavily traveled with a traffic count of perhaps 10,000 vehicles a day.
I recognize that they are in a pitched battle with the network operators, they were partially boxed out by the telcos on the spectrum auction, they are having trouble penetrating the walled garden of the cell world…but there is more than a little irony in a billboard campaign in Olean, no? That being said, it makes sense.
September 14, 2007
The many posters from around the world at the Google Maps for Business Group will have reason to rejoice today as Google has announced at the Google Lat-Long blog that Google Maps has dramatically increased world wide coverage. You can now see where McDonald’s are in Costa Rica.
From the Google Lat-Long blog:
Today we added 54 new countries to Google Maps! We’ve more than doubled our coverage of Latin America and are now mapping three times as many countries in Asia as before….
Here’s the full list of new countries:
Afghanistan, Aruba, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Bermuda, Brunei Darussalam, Bhutan, Bolivia, Cambodia, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Mexico, Myanmar (Burma), Mongolia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Timor-Leste, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen
We have better detail for some countries than others, but this is just the beginning. In coming months, we’ll be working tirelessly to add more detail to the existing countries in Google Maps, and we’ll also be adding new countries to the list.
September 12, 2007
In a recent post, The Google Operating System Blog points out that Google SMS Adds Location-Based Personalization to your text queries of its local business database by sending a SMS to Google that contains the command:
set location [city, zip code, address]
In recent trip to NYC with my family over labor day weekend I discovered that Google will automatically (no command required) set your default location in an SMS query after three queries as well. By setting the location automatically after a limited number of queries, Google cuts key entry time in half on all subsequent queries for users like me that are too lazy to explore the help file or send a command.
I experimented with Goog-411, Google Maps & Google SMS as local tools during this tourist visit and found that when walking down the street or perusing a shop or museum, Google SMS was an incredibly valuable alternative to find a known store’s location and phone number. In many ways it was preferable to Directory Assistance as it was silent and unobtrusive. Once received as a text message it was then a simple task to tell my Nokia to find the number and dial it if need be or add it to my contacts.
September 11, 2007
Ask removes search box from default mobile search
From the post:What Ask found in their user testing is that users would immediately go to the search box and start trying to use it. While this sounds like it offers what the user wants, the fact is that accomplishing simple things like finding our the weather in San Francisco can take 70 keystrokes if you are on a mobile device without a QWERTY keyboard (for example entering the letter C requires you to hit the 2 button 3 times)Â
All I can say is AMEN to that. If you have never tried searching using via a WAP browser on a cell phone you should give it a try to understand why you never want to do it.
Google aims to patent payment by SMS at Electronista – Gadgets for Geeks.
Himmelstein on Gâ€™s Local Biz Referral Program – Guest columnist Marty Himmelstein at Greg Sterling’s blog has great overview of trends in local search and Google’s take on them.
Discussion of New Kelsey Mobile Numbers by Greg Sterling at Localmobilesearch.net. And I thought it was me that couldn’t figure out the numbers…
Just received this email from Google:
Search Ads on Google Mobile Search
Hello Michael Blumenthal,
We are happy to announce a new feature that will allow you to
easily reach additional qualified customers who are searching
Google from their mobile phones.
In the next few days, your search ads will be eligible to run on
Google Mobile Search pages (like they currently do on Google.com).
We are offering this feature – and any resulting clicks – for
free through November 18, so you can experiment with the rapidly
growing mobile platform while still reaching qualified customers.
Each ad’s eligibility will be determined by its landing page and
only ads with landing pages that can be adapted for viewing on
mobile browsers will be shown.Â You can monitor each ad’s
performance via a special performance tracking page within your
account called “Performance Data: Search Ads on Google Mobile
Again, you will not be charged for clicks on these ads until
November 19, at which time we will begin charging the usual CPC
prices.Â And as always, you may opt-out of this feature at any
We hope you find this new feature helpful and profitable, and we
urge you to learn more about it at our AdWords Help Center:
Thank you for advertising with Google AdWords.
The Google AdWords Team
September 1, 2007
12 Billion Local Business Searches. Do Yellow Pages Still Matter? – a good summary of a report given by TMP at SES on the complexity of customer behavior when using the internet to look for local goods.
Measuring Local Search by Brian Wool. An overview of some of the choices in attempting to measure local search outcomes and results.
August 28, 2007
In-car Google Local Search Google continues to push Maps to new platforms and venues. I see this type of market penetration as a way to achieve monopoly status ala the iPod.
Segmenting Local Mobile Search
Good article from Gerg Sterling at SearchEngineLand categorizing and documenting the fragmented nature of local mobile search. As he points out, what he calls “mobile Internet is really four separate silos that will eventually blend to varying degrees.”
At this point the only players in all the silos are Google, MSN & Yahoo. With the Telcos, Ask, Local.com, Jingle and others participating in one or two categories. He points out that “we can expect to see increasing integration of the types of functionality that are currently largely separated — the blending of voice interfaces, text and WAP and, potentially, applications that come preloaded on phones (e.g., Google Maps on the iPhone).”
Handheld shootout! Google Maps vs. Windows Live Search reviews two Local Mobile Apps mentioned in Greg’s article and concludes that “I’m not a big fan of Microsoft’s search offerings, but this one beats Google’s hands down. It almost makes me forget the raw coolness of Google Maps on the iPhone. Almost.”
August 24, 2007
Google’s new upgrade to easily allow Maps to be embedded on a web page has been widely reported.
I figure the test of any new “easy to use” technology and whether it will propagate widely is the “Mike Test”. That is, if I can figure out how to use it in 5 minutes or less with minimal instructions and without calling my programmer. Google’s new embed Map feature passes that test with flying colors.
The ease with which a map and driving instructions can be added to a website will lead to a rapid adoption rate of this technology across the web on many different types of websites. (Adding custom maps is only slightly more difficult.) The result? More traffic to Google Maps. Each of these maps include upwards of 5 new links into Google Maps. The most significant of which (in terms of driving new business searches) is the “search nearby” link.
For most of last year and into January of this year, Google Maps provided little real traffic to most websites. With the advent of the Local OneBox, Google focused attention on their local data that lead to a significant increase in Maps traffic. The same seems to be true of Google Maps on the iPhone as well. Now it appears that almost every website will provide the same. (One wonders whether placing a map on a directions page will influence Map rankings in any way.)
Google has, with the flick of a technological switch, once again put in place a feature that will lead to a significant increase in Maps use. Their ability to drive this kind of traffic to their local product demonstrates why they will be so difficult to beat in the race to dominate this market.