Since SES 2005 San Jose, local search has been promoted as the next big thing. Yelp.com, Oodle, Craiglist and Google Maps have proven the importance of local content and the different channels under which local searches are happening.
At SES Local Search 2006, a session was held on the growing potential of local search converging with mobile and WiFi technologies. While the possibilities of WiFi integration are tantalizing, the fact that SMS mobile marketing in the US hasnt fully taken off (much less mobile phones with WiFi) points to the face that we probably have 1-3 years before the mobile market really takes off to the mainstream.
But once cheap broadband, interactive features, high ease of use, social connections begin to appear on mobile phones, we’ll get – you guessed it - Web 3.0 or rather perhaps Mobile 2.0.
Introduction: Local Search is the Stepping Stone to the Next Step in Mobile Space
I remember attending SES 2005 (04?) in San Jose where one of the buzzes was that local search would be the next big thing. Online local search is growing but in very different ways than imagined at the time, from local UGC guides like Yelp.com and Judy’s Book to Google Maps and Craigslist and the classified search tool Oodle. In essence, local search is replacing the local printed classified and local reviews of restaurants and businesses.
Indeed, the next logical step for local search is the mobile phone: How many times have you caught yourself wishing you had directions or wondered what new restaurant to check out while going out? Citing a “Pew Internet & American Life Project” report, Revenue Today mentioned the possibility for future growth in the United States:
- 30 percent of adults say they want to web-surf from their cell phone
- 46 percent say that mobile maps and driving directions are a must on the next phone they plan to purchase
Unfortunately, there is a large gap between what users want in the future and their behavior now. According to Revenue Today, eMarketer finds only 36 percent of U.S. teens (15-17) “ever send or receive a text message” – a surprisingly low figure.
Beyond Local Search
Beyond local search, another interesting area that could possibly raise out of Web 3.0/Mobile 2.0 is the extension of online social networks to the mobile space. Richard MacManus of Read/Write has been talking about a possible merger of Dodgeball (mobile SNS) with Orkut (online SNS) and citing as the next trend in SNS:
Social networking has been the biggest thing going in 2006 (MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, etc). And it looks like mobile will be big next year. So SNS + Mobile seems the logical sequel.
The Role of Wifi in the Mobile Market
SES 2006 Local Search’s session on “Coping with Convergence: Local Search Meets Mobile and WiFi” introduces WiFi as another large factor that will come into play on both local search and the mobile market.
A Search Engine Watch article by Grant Crowell mentions:
The same is true across all mobile devicesâ€”laptops, phones, and other devices that use WiFi services from a hotspot. “The advent of WiFi is going to change the roles a lot,” said Greg Gruse, senior VP of Content Services for Local Matters. “As municipalities (and places of business) start rolling out free WiFi services, things are going to change again. The power of that search box on that portal will be very important because that page, not your home page, will be the starting point for people when they connect to their municipal WiFi portal.”
While municipal WiFI have the possibility to change alot on how Americans use the Intenret the real next step of mobile phones is not WiFi per se, which little phones in the US have support for. What is the next step is the availability of cheap broadband access (Be it WiFi, WiMax, EV-DO or some 4G technology), the same thing that has helped lead to Web 2.0…
Welcoming Web 3.0/Mobile 2.0
The hallmarks of the “Web 2.0″ phenomenon we’re currently in is marked by several elements:
- Low Entry-to-Market barrier for Start-Ups (Far cheaper to start than the first dot-com)
- Cheap Broadband, enabling sites like YouTube (More and more users have DSL or Cable Internet)
- Ease of Use/Interactivity (Better UI, AJAX and Broadband speeds)
- Social Connections (MySpace, Judy’s Books, Yelp.com)
The same rule will apply to the mobile market. From services like Dodgeball to multimedia text messages (MMS) and the ever growing popularity of camera phones to the new slew of souped-up GPS enabled phones like Nokia’s N95 its only natural to see phones as being the next step, bringing the Internet beyond the computer. But, the rule above that applied to web 2.0 will also rule the mobile market, and unfortunately three of the elements above are still unresolved major challenges. Thus, it is suspect if such convergence will easily and quickly develop in the U.S.
2007 is going to be a very interesting year for the mobile market, both creating a new market and expanding the definition of the Internet (freeing itself from the computer).
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