How Do People Search for Information on Mobile Phones

By Andrew Brom posted 06-04-2011 23:16


There are more mobile phones than computers in the world. And each day more and more people switch to smartphones with richer media features and functionalities. According to global mobile statistics, over 77% of the world population are now using cell phones. The introduction of iPad only reinforces this shift away from personal computers and laptops.

A more important question is how people use their mobile devices. Making phone calls and sending text messages are no longer the only types of activity cell phone owners perform. Many now have unlimited data plans with 3G Internet to access a whole range of Web services. For example, over 25% of the U.S. population are "mobile-only", i.e. they almost never use a PC or laptop to access the Web. This figure will only grow in the years to come.

Mobile Web Usage

According to recent IDC study, the most popular activites of mobile users include sending and receiving IMs, web search, downloading music and videos, reading news, literature, social networking (e.g. Facebook), playing games, sending emails. While buying things on mobile phones still makes only a small percentage of user activities, it is bound to grow fast by 2013.

While it may seem that mobile apps must comprise the major demand because of their ubiquity, most U.S. users still prefer to use Google to find websites; thus, it is very important to have a mobile one.

How do people use mobile search?

As mentioned earlier, a lot of cell phone users use mobile search to find information, news, videos and even engage in mobile shopping. Therefore, depending on your organization's goals (e.g. profit, non-profit, etc.), there may be different strategies employed in mobile marketing. For example, a mobile version of the library's catalogue with an easy-to-use search for e-books is a great way to cater to the needs of patrons who like to read world classics on the go.

There are business services that are very well suited for mobile applications. Selling ringtones and mobile wallpapers are just one example. Performing a cell phone lookup for someone's name or number is another.

How do people search mobile Web?

Using mobile Web to find information should not be any different from online Web searches, should it? Well, it takes more time to type in words on a mobile phone, so people might prefer shorter phrases for their mobile searches. My experience shows that strong, one word brands (relevant one word searches) receive larger search volume than long tail searches. Google is a great resource for verifying which short tail phrases receive the largest number of searches from cell phone Web users.

Cell phones have smaller screens which means that a mobile version of the site has to be designed using each pixel of the space with maximum utility. In addition, it is harder to type on a mobile phone than on a keyboard, thus, there were some early initiatives to evolutionize mobile search by using images instead of keywords, for example. QR codes that can be scanned with a phone camera are widely used nowadays as image (URL) shortcuts to the needed information.

#technology #mobileweb #socialnetworks