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by Lucy Griffiths on 28th January 2010
With Google seemingly untouchable in conventional online search, how will they fare in the Mobile market? With Apple favouring Bing on their hugely popular iPhone, could Google suffer a mobile search slide?
Without question, the mobile Internet is going to become an increasingly important battlefield for the major search engines. Google have already announced their intentions with the release of their Android operating system and their first dedicated Google phone, the Nexus One. Last week Apple waded in by announcing their intention to include Bing as the iPhone’s default search browser. So where will it all end?
Google and Apple appear to be at loggerheads over just about everything currently. Microsoft and Google have always enjoyed a frosty relationship with rival products in a wide variety of sectors. But despite the strength of their competitors, Google have always remained relatively unscathed in their core market (search), whilst also gaining footholds elsewhere (Chrome OS, Chrome browser and Android); however, could a massive increase in mobile search scupper them?
The iPhone is probably one of the most iconic and popular phones on the market. Millions of people across the world use it for the applications, functionality and connectivity it offers. In the UK it is now available to more users than ever after the network monopoly held by 3 was felled; the various devices are now offered by Vodafone, Orange and O2. So the announcement that they are considering a tie-in with Microsoft, making their Bing search engine the default option on all phones.
With the mobile Internet market expanding at a staggering pace, mobile search is likely to become just as competitive as the more traditional online version. It is a potentially lucrative market for engines to explore, with new opportunities to advertise made possible by the mobility of the technology and integration of multiple devices – including the camera for Google’s Goggle application.
Of course, Google already have the advantage of establishing themselves online first. They are the byword for search, whilst Microsoft’s Bing (likely to become its only major competitor) is still very much a fledgling platform. This will stand them in good stead for mobile search too.
Google have also been quick to develop their mobile presence. Android has been largely well received and is now the embedded operating system for a number of mobile phones. This has provided them with plenty of leverage to fend off the advancing Apple/Microsoft hoards. Further ammunition has come in the form of the Nexus One, which was unveiled in a flurry of excitement at the beginning of this year. As a completely Googlecentric phone, it will be the ideal device to really help springboard their mobile search and marketing efforts.
The success of Google or Bing to corner their mobile markets could ultimately have a knock on effect on their overall search performance. If Bing becomes the search engine of choice for all Apple users, its influence, reputation and usage could expand exponentially. In terms of marketing, it doesn’t get much better than having the world’s most popular (and iconic) phone on your side.
As mobile internet gains extra popularity, and it will, the knock on effect will be palpable. Mobile-only websites will become more prevalent, whilst those sites set up for traditional computer resolutions might have to consider developing their mobile brand. However, is it also possible that the search engine fight will also spill from the screens of our computers and on to those of our laptops; could this be the opportunity that Google’s rivals have been waiting for?
Expect a lot more this year on mobile search and the mobile Internet in general. We’re certainly keeping a close eye on developments, as the focus shifts over to this up and coming technology.