Are Mobile Web Browsers Limiting Mobile Search?

Mobile search is an integral aspect of mobile marketing in many respects, but still, mobile browsers inhibit the use due to their core design. Of course the iPhone and other “full browsing” capable devices do a much better job these days, but looking at the...

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Mobile search is an integral aspect of mobile marketing in many respects, but still, mobile browsers inhibit the use due to their core design.

Of course the iPhone and other “full browsing” capable devices do a much better job these days, but looking at the big picture, most devices still in use today feature very limited browsing capabilities compared to the speed of the networks they run on.  Even with an iPhone, more searches are performed using search-based apps then with the browser itself, so why is this?

The overall search experience, while all the resources are in place, still isn’t where it should be.  The problem lies in the fact that most search engines rely on the publisher of the content to optimize for mobile instead of the search engine itself.  Most people start with a search engine when searching for mobile content, which works well, but when directed to content from the SERP, the experience weakens substantially due to the fact that 9 out of 10 websites aren’t optimized for mobile- meaning they’re slow-loading, full of flash and other content not viewable on a mobile device and so on.

The mobile search engine should take care of optimizing the experience for the end-user since it’s the first point of contact for most mobile-Web experiences.  SMS search services are becoming ever-more popular due to this fact.  It’s much easier, most of the time, to text-in a query and have it returned instantly.  Services like KGB and ChaCha are growing rapidly due to this fact, but mobile browsers should make the experience as easy and intuitive as it is on the desktop.

For mobile search to really gain traction, mobile browsers need to get better.  The potential for mobile search is huge, but the browsers they run on are limiting their potential.

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7 comments

  1. Mobile News » Mobile Web Poll: Email & Social Networking Most Popular

    […]  It should be interesting to see what this same poll produces next year and beyond as mobile apps, mobile browsers and mobile broadband continue to […]

  2. Giff Gfroerer, i2SMS

    A while back I commented that Cha Cha’s search results were failing to send the correct information time and time again, as they switched to less human intervention.

    I want to now comment that lately their service in search has been doing quite well. If I do not receive the correct response, I can reply with a message clarifying my request. This normally works quite well.

    Keep it going Cha Cha. Service is looking better these days

  3. Digital Media Buzz - Are Mobile Web Browsers Limiting Mobile Search? | Digital Media Buzz

    […] Of course the iPhone and other “full browsing” capable devices do a much better job these days, but looking at the big picture, most devices still in use today feature very limited browsing capabilities compared to the speed of the networks they run on.  Even with an iPhone, more searches are performed using search-based apps then with the browser itself, so why is this?……..[read entire article] […]

  4. Jon Cooper

    I think this conclusion represents a worthy goal, but misses the crux of the problem:
    >>
    mobile browsers should make the experience as easy and intuitive as it is on the desktop.
    >>
    Web site architecture and web usability are entrenched concepts at this point, and for most people are inextricably tied to the desktop scenario. Site owners and their designers (and the Internet analysts that write about them) should be clear that the desktop-style web interfaces we have come to know and love are not fork-lift portable to mobile computing devices. Mobile devices require their own unique site architecture, and until web site owners publish mobile-specific web sites, users craving good experiences will search the app store before searching the web. We can do a lot better than WAP, and we can do a lot better than simply relying on “Full HTML browsers” that reproduce the desktop web site as a postage stamp replica. Take a cue from iPhone apps and design web experiences for the device to yield the mobile web search audience we all know is in the offing.

  5. Chuck Sacco

    It’s sometimes easy to make the assumption that consumers want a mirrored experience on their mobile devices that’s the same as their PC’s. That’s probably not the case.

    The use cases and contexts for mobile are completely different than the PC, so the issue has less to do with the browser and more to do with providing consumers with mobile-appropriate experiences that leverage the unique capabilities of each device’s browser.

  6. Mobile Marketing

    Great Blog I will need to keep this in mind. I do believe that flash on mobile websites is a bad idea. Users want quick instance access. I can see why the iphone blocks certain data.

  7. Daniel

    I partially agree although I disagree with the solution. Yes, flash has something to do with it (which is why the iPhone does not have it) but I think personally that the onus is on the Network to provide faster download speeds, not on the manufacturer to build a better browser.

    I use an iPhone and I find Safari to be excellent, however O2 doesn’t always offer fast download speeds, which causes slow loading pages. Connecting to Wi-fi at home where I have 10 Mbps, the loading of pages in Safari on my iPhone is lightning quick, and a very pleasant experience.

    Using the Speedtest.net app on my iPhone, the fastest ever download sped I’ve seen from O2 is 1.6 Mbps – that is appalling! Especially since the phone supports agt least 3.6 Mbps and possibly even 7.2 Mbps.

    If the networks therefore get their act together and provide us with faster download speeds, even the lousiest mobile browser won’t seem so bad.

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