October 31, 2008
Google’s Voter Information Tool has gone mobile. From the official Google Blog:
With the U.S. elections less than a week away, voting drives are ramping up. Political parties and non-partisan groups alike are sending out volunteers to encourage citizens to vote on November 4. To make sure these volunteers have the same voter info tools available to them on their phone as on their computer, we’ve now launched a mobile voting locator tool on m.google.com/elections. (Click here to send this to your phone.)
It is nice to see that this tool works on new smartphones as well as on older not-so-smart phones like my ancient Nokia 3650. Good Job Google!
October 21, 2008
Where Will Android Go Next? - Om Malik, GigaOm
When it comes to its new mobile operating system, Android, Google’s dreams go beyond just mobile phones. Indeed, the company is hoping that the open-source version of the software will eventually find its way into a panoply of devices.
iPod Touch serves as a flight ticket – a real e-ticket - Frank Fuchs, Locally Type
Frank covers his first experience with using his portable mobile device for e-ticketing. It works and and the counter attendant was able to scan the ticket directly from his iPod screen.
A Look at Google’s First Phone – David Pogue, NY Times
The new G1 from T-Mobile brings the promise of truly open mobile computing with full browsing capability to the cell phone. The logic of a cell phone purchase, however, is made more difficult by the awkward dance between the hardware, software & provider. It is never an easy decision and Pogue’s review of the new T-Mobile Android based G phone points out why.
The Android software looks, feels and works a lot like the iPhone’s. Not as consistent or as attractive, but smartly designed and, for version 1.0, surprisingly complete. In any case, it’s polished enough to give Windows Mobile an inferiority complex the size of Australia; let’s hope Microsoft has a good therapist.
So there’s your G1 report card: software, A-. Phone, B-. Network, C.
InfoUSA, Urban Mapping announce custom local search product - Christopher Hosford, BtoBOnline
Through a custom integration agreement, infoUSA customers can link business listings with contextually relevant neighborhood information from Urban Mapping’s database of more than 60,000 U.S. neighborhoods in more than 2,700 cities and towns.
The companies said such enhanced geo-location search capabilities would allow for more precise advertising and higher conversions.
SBB trains live on www.swisstrains.ch – Robert, SwissTrains.ch
Take a look at what Google’s Jonathan Rosenberg thinks the future of Mapping looks like.
From the Q3 Earnings Call: One other thing I would actually suggest you try one of the coolest maps applications I saw. Go to swisstrains.ch to see the precision of Swiss trains in real-time and you will actually get a visceral sense of what it is going to be like for people when all of this stuff works on their browsers and works in mobile devices.
Details Emerge about Motorola’s Android Phone - Greg Sterling
Indeed, notwithstanding the built-in social networking elements, price may be a more effective differentiator for the Motorola Android phone. If there is price competition among the various Android vendors, how might that affect BlackBerry and the iPhone? Both have some insulation against price competition: BlackBerry owns the enterprise market today and the iPhone the high-end consumer market. Yet both could be forced to respond if multiple Android handsets are priced closer to $100 than $200.
And the more prices come down for smartphones, the more that segment of the market will grow. Three of the top five selling phones in the US are smartphones (two BlackBerry phones and the iPhone). That in turn benefits the mobile Internet as we’ve repeatedly seen:
October 10, 2008
On my last night at SMXEast, I took four 20 somethings out to dinner, two women and two men. It was interesting in that they all seemed to be connected to local mobile across the spectrum of possibilities. One had an iPhone, one could barely use her cell phone for texting, and two would have an iPhone if they could afford a data plan.
Of the four of them, two thought Windows Mobile was an abomination (volunteered not solicited), and not one of them had heard of the impending G-phone rollout from T-Mobile. The iPhone user immediately started wondering if it would make her iPhone obsolete and whether she should get one.
Admittedly not a huge sample but interesting none the less. The iPhone has a great reputation amongst all of them, Windows Mobile sucked (from their point of view) and their was immediate interest and trust in a Google phone.
The next day, having returned to Olean and I dined with a 50 something, female lawyer friend who owns an iPhone. She didn’t have her iPhone handy and we wanted to locate the neighborhood where one of the previous evening’s 20 year old lived. I pulled out my four year old Nokia 3620 with its early WAP browser and successfully pulled up a Google Map of the location. I handed the phone to the lawyer who immediately started poking the screen and double flicking in an effort to zoom the view. She was annoyed at the lack of response and just assumed that all phones had an interface like the iPhone. It points out the huge advantage of being first with a usable design and if that translates to significant market share how hard it would be to unlodge that early leader once the habit is ingrained..
The anecdotes demonstrate how deeply the iPhone has penetrated our culture and their ready market for a lower priced phone/plan. It doesn’t bode well for Microsoft’s mobile future and it is clear that Google, while having a lot of brand equity, has not yet moved their phone onto the radar of most people.
October 8, 2008
Yesterday I asked whether Google Map’s upward trend continue? Can Mapquest maintain its market share? Or like the IYP space does Google just have too much presence in search to not win this race also?
From where I sit, these Map & IYP Market Share comparisons only look at a narrow sliver of Local results being delivered to end users. I have taken the liberty of adding an estimate of Google’s % of total Internet traffic that shows a Local OneBox to Hitwise’s chart. I am assuming that Google.com has roughly 6% of total traffic and that the Local Onebox shows for geo specific queries on roughly 10% of all searches. It could be as low as 7% and perhaps as high as 15%.
Regardless, it indicates that Google.com is displaying a map with attendant local results 2 to 3 times more frequently than Mapquest. Thus when you combine the reach of Google Maps and the Google.com Local OneBox, it is approaching 1% of total Internet traffic. This aggregate is 3 to 4 times the market share of MapQuest.
Google has never sat on it’s laurels in regard to Map’s market share. At every opportunity they have directed traffic inwards towards Maps as opposed to elsewhere. As Matt McGee noted on SearchEngineLand:
We’ve noted on Search Engine Land that two factors likely began to change the traffic trends for map sites: First, when Google stopped linking to MapQuest and Yahoo! Maps; second, when Google Maps began to be featured prominently in Universal Search results.
The imminent release of location aware browsers will further refine Google’s ability to deliver locally relevant results to the desktop. I am sure that this not the only trick up their sleeves.
But even this analysis captures but a share of the local information flowing from the Google Map’s data siloh into end user’s hands….
September 8, 2008
Eric Enge has an informative and detailed interview today with Frazier Miller and Shailesh Bhat on the inner workings of Yahoo Local.
There were many items in the interview of interest and a number of notable contrasts with Google’s fully automated system.
Some of the highlights:
- Yahoo Local relies very heavily on the licensed feeds that they get through data providers like InfoUSA, Acxiom, and Localeze and these should be the primary sources for maintaing data accuracy in your Yahoo record.
- They “have human and manual moderation that goes on for changes, so … submissions all go through a moderation process where we look for patterns and we actually do validation of data to make sure it is accurate”. Google could learn from this approach!
- Categorization and consistency of keywords across data sources and your listing are key to ranking
For more key points from the interview ….
August 26, 2008
U.S. on Track to Top Mobile Net Market, Study Says – Steve McClellan, AdWeek.com
Why the change? Kerr cites several reasons, including the fact that U.S. mobile carriers are rapidly building out 3G networks, which facilitate the transmission of mobile Web-based video at faster rates, something that U.K. and other European-based carriers did years ago. Plus, newer handsets available in the U.S. offer higher quality reception of video and music and cheaper subscriber plans have boosted sign-ups among consumers, he said.
The most highly trafficked sites tend to be those offering news, sports and weather, with spikes occurring during rush hour and lunch breaks. “Growth in the U.S. has really come on strong in the last two years,” he said.
VoIP Goes Mobile – Olga Kharif, BusinessWeek.com
Gorilla, iCall, and a growing number of other services rely on what’s known as Voice over Internet Protocol technology that delivers speech via the Internet in much the same way as e-mail. VoIP calling is already raising a ruckus in telecommunications, putting pressure on the price of land-line calling and luring subscribers toward upstarts like Vonage (VG) and Comcast (CMCSA) away from incumbents such as AT&T, and Verizon (VZ). Now, the technology threatens to erode sales for mobile-phone service providers too.
Load Your User’s Location on the Map!Â - Pamela Fox, GooglegeoDevelopers
Wouldn’t it be better if the map could automatically center to my location without me lifting one of my precious fingers? The answer is yes, and now it’s easier to do than ever with the introduction of IP-based location information in the AJAX APIs framework
August 15, 2008
Polo Ralph Lauren to Launch Shopping by Cellphone – Reuters News Service
Polo is the first luxury retailer to launch a mobile commerce site, hoping to stay ahead of a trend that is making its way from Asia to the United States, said David Lauren, senior vice president of advertising and son of designer and Chief Executive Ralph Lauren.
5 Steps for 5 Stars: Reputation Management for Small Businesses
– David Mihm, davidmihm.com
A great summary and “a list of truly exceptional posts related to this topic written in the last couple of months, and summarizing their findings”.
Hyperlocal Blogging Sonoma County, CA – More SEO Copywriting Tips – Miriam Ellis, Solaswebdesign.com
The second part of a two part series on copywriting tips for hyperlocal blogging.
Smartphone Is Expected via Google NY Times
T-Mobile will be the first carrier to offer a mobile phone powered by Googleâ€™s Android software, according to people briefed on the companyâ€™s plans.
How Image-to-Text Could Be Used in Google Street View – Phillip Lenssen, blogoscoped.com
Google could be able to make the streets searchable through a normal text input box. If a club is called â€œFoobarâ€ and you enter â€œfoobarâ€, you may find the location even if itâ€™s not available from any existing yellow pages overview service.
June 16, 2008
Does the IYP/online business directory market share matter or has the battle already been decided? Has this category been relegated to just another niche search area where money can be made but market dominance is not possible?
A recent press release noted that www.local.com, ranked fifth in the Business Directories online industry category. This was based on the Hitwise analysis of market share of U.S. visits received at the internet yp sites in Q1, 2008. Greg Sterling at Screenwerks noted the other sites in the category as ranked by Hitwise in their results:
Business and Finance – Business Directories
I have small quibbles with these IYP comparisons. Maps.google.com has a tendency to be over counted due to its integrated mapping function and Yahoo tends to be undercounted due to the fact that it splits its local, yp and maps products into different urls. A resolution to this methodology issue is likely to move Yahoo local closer to first in this list but these are small details.
I see a much bigger problem in that it appears to me the battle for local business listings has already been won and not by the properties on the Hitwise list. These comparisons are simply measuring who has 1st, 2nd and perhaps third of the remaining, ever declining market share left to them by market leaders Google’s and Yahoo’s universal search results.
Here is my math….
June 11, 2008
When Will â€˜Mobile Searchâ€™ Overtake the Internet?Â - Greg Sterling, LocalMobileSearch.net
While it might take some time for mobile to pass Internet search in the US or Western Europe, in context of the entire world itâ€™s not hard to imagine mobile search volumes exceeding the desktop Internet, in the aggregate, within 5-7 years.
Google Goes Back to â€˜Opt-inâ€™ in MobileÂ - Greg Sterling, LocalMobileSearch.net
When Google first launched mobile AdWords it was an opt-in program: advertisers specifically had to choose to be in mobile sponsored search results. Then, in aÂ fairly well publicized move, Google decided to make mobile an opt-out for AdWords advertisers:
The company informed me last week that it has gone back to an opt-in policy for mobile at the present time.
I also discussed with Google the degree to which the desktop and mobile might ultimate become more similar than different, in the context of â€œfull HTMLâ€ browsers (Safari, Opera, Skyfire, Mozilla, Android). Weâ€™ll see. As Iâ€™ve tried to argue in the past, while there are some advantages in that scenario for users there are considerableÂ disadvantages for advertisersÂ â€” chiefly because online ads get lost and become very difficult to see.
The iPhone is probably the model of how smartphone browsing will evolve: native applications + full HTML browsing. But that still doesnâ€™t solve the problem for advertisers seeking to effectively reach mobile audiences.
Move Over Universal Search, Illustrated Search Is Smarter?Â - Bill Slawski,SEObyTheSea
The authors of these patent filings refer to this approach as a â€œsmart aggregation of search results by concepts.â€ In addition to helping searchers quickly understand different concepts related to their queries,and view different relevant content types from different sources, is also that focused advertisement can be presented.
What Googleâ€™s ZIP Code Targeting Means for Local BusinessesÂ - David Mihm,Â davidmihm.com
I take a look at some of the implications of this development, and expand on an earlier hypothesis about why Google introduced the 10-pack to Universal search in the first place. Yes, ZIP code targeting means more relevant results for searchers, but itâ€™s an innovation that might not be entirely altruistic.
June 10, 2008
Smartphones Now Ringing for Women – Laura M. Holson, NY Times
If recent history is any guide, roughly a third of the people snapping up Appleâ€™s new iPhone are likely to tote it in a purse.
In a big shift for the phone industry, women have emerged as eager buyers of not just iPhones but of all so-called smartphones â€” BlackBerrys, Treos and other models.
In the last year the number of American women using smartphones more than doubled to 10.4 million, growing at a faster pace than among men, according to Nielsen Mobile, which tracks wireless trends.
Apple’s $199 iPhone: How Can It Be So Cheap? – Yardena Arar, PC World
“There are probably subsidization issues going on here,” he said. In fact, AT&T in a news release issued today hinted that it would be taking a hit on revenues from device sales in hopes of increased profits down the line from data services to what’s anticipated to be a huge customer base.
“In the near term, AT&T anticipates that the new agreement will likely result in some pressure on margins and earnings, reflecting the costs of subsidized device pricing, which, in turn, is expected to drive increased subscriber volumes,” the news release states. It also points out that AT&T will no longer share revenue on iPhone services with Apple, and that the cost of an unlimited data plan for consumers will rise from the current $20 a month to $30 a month (on top of a voice plan available for $40 or more).”
This appears to be a razors and razor blades strategy with Apple picking up the extra commission. In rural areas with no 3g coverage this seems like a bad deal.
TomTom says navigation app already runs on iPhone – Reuters
Dutch navigation device maker TomTom already has a version of its navigation software running on Apple’s iPhone and has plans to sell it to consumers, a spokesman said on Monday.
“Our navigation system runs on the iPhone already,” the TomTom spokesman said after Apple announced a new version of the iPhone that will include global positioning (GPS) capability.
The spokesman did not say when TomTom, Europe’s biggest maker of car navigation devices, would be ready to start selling the software.
Active navigation will be an important application for accelerating iPhone adoption and will facilitate active search.
Google Mobile Advertising: Start Now! – David Szetela, Search Engine Watch
The first concept to grasp: mobile search ads can evoke three different actions:
- (The usual) click-through to the advertiser site
- A click that sends the “clicker” to a Google-supplied Business Page
- A click that immediately and automatically places a voice call to the advertiser’s phone number
The latter two options require zero web site development, and can be perfect options for certain advertiser types:
- Retail businesses that finish many/most of their transactions by phone, such as take-out restaurants, florists, or taxi companies.
- B2B businesses that crave phone leads. Sure, they need to have the processes and infrastructure to qualify and (hopefully) close clients within a call or tow — but many businesses do.
- B2C companies whose aspects straddle the previous two, like professional services: legal, financial, investment, etc.
Cell Services Keep It Easy, and Free – David Pogue, NY Times
A good overview of GOOG-411, Cha-Cha and Jott