Mobile world should look hard at search

Low consumer awareness, poor ease of use and the need for established industry wide metrics are three of the key challenges that need to be addressed for mobile search to establish itself.

A report released by the Mobile Entertainment Forum (MEF) on Wednesday, found that while mobile search’s star may be rising, the industry must do more to bring consumer uptake in line with industry expectations.

The report identifies a “pressing need” for more information and real data to provide established metrics for a consistent understanding of success. It calls for the establishment of an independent body that can provide recognised metrics and measurements, similar to those available in the fixed internet world.

Author of the report and Ovum analyst, Eden Zoller, said: “There is more mobile content available than ever before, and the slow but inevitable shift to flat rate data tariffs will create an even greater market for mobile browsing and web downloads.

“These developments will throw a spotlight onto the search and discovery business. Mobile search is a challenging but fundamental issue for the industry to crack as it underpins the success of every type of mobile entertainment.”

Search may be the de facto interface to content in the fixed world but it has yet to be fully embraced by the mobile world. It stands to reason that if the internet is to take off on the mobile, then search will play a significant role.

But Monetising search, as far as the operators are concerned, will be a challenge.

Claudia Poepperl, head of the MEF initiative and CMO for MobilePeople, said: “There are many differences between fixed and mobile search patterns, but one of the crucial points to note is that premium, paid for content tops the list of mobile search terms: ringtones (56 per cent) and music downloads (47 per cent). Consumers searching via mobile aren’t simply browsing, they’re actively looking to buy. This represents a fantastic revenue opportunity for operators and content providers alike, but only if issues of usability and measurement can be resolved.”

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