Friday, June 10, 2005

SMS Is "The" Mobile Search

From Business 2.0 Mobile Search: The Battle Begins .

The world's largest search engines are battling for control of your cell phone.

It's easy to see why: With the worldwide installed base of mobile-phone owners expected to exceed 2 billion people this year, and with most new phones doubling as portable Internet terminals, it's a huge opportunity.

That means localized, timely information, like the address of the nearest pizza joint or driving directions to the airport. But there'll be more to success than helping people figure out where to buy a slice.

Advertising on a 2-inch screen is a huge challenge, so Yahoo (YHOO), Google (GOOG), and their competitors will need to devise new revenue streams, such as bundling search with other subscription services like e-mail or music

While any phone with a browser can access its Web search tool, all local search queries are handled by a text-message-based system

That is key. Mobile search is really SMS. It's too hard to type in on your cell phone and wait a minute for the site to come up. When it does, the 10,000 hits Google gives you for your search query are useless. An SMS search done by 4INFO is so much faster and more accurate than Google's SMS.

Send a query to 44636 (4INFO) and see what I mean. Then try 46645 (GOOGL). Not only will you find 4INFO's results faster, but more relevant.

There are others UP SNAP, SYNFONIC , SMS LOCAL to name a few.

Not every phone is web-enabled (and even if it is, the speed is ridiculous). Almost every phone is text enabled. So SMS seems like the clear path to mobile search.

According to the Pierz Group, Americans spent nearly $2 billion on directory assistance from their mobile phones last year -- at an average of $1.25 a call -- which suggests a healthy demand for information on the go.

Imagine if you spent $1.25 on every SMS search. Or everytime you did an SMS for the score of the Yankees game. Howabout for every quote on a stock?

That is why the YellowPages needs to offer a SMS function.

Now think to the database of keywords that is generated from these SMS queries. Think the search engines could sell more advertising from it?

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