ZDNet reports on two different mobile usage studies here and here. Both show usage and revenues growing dramatically over the next three to five years, with entertainment services (games, music, TV) having the steepest incline.
Though search wasn’t mentioned, increased mobile content use will push mobile search (including, importantly, mobile local search) adoption forward. They are complementary, and the comfort levels required to use each of them go hand in hand. MoLo is currently in an early adopter phase that is a function of how compelling (or not) current products are, restrictions of current hardware, cost of smartphones (on which many MoLo applications such as Earthcomber run), and the buying power of those most interested in mobile search (younger generations). The latter of course will change and bode well for mobile search and entertainment likely a big factor in their expected growth.
A wild card in this whole scenario is what business model will win out and become the de facto standard for advertising and location-based services. There is much experimentation happening at the application level, which unfortunately is being filtered and in some cases stifled by carrier control. Location-based services (getting a Starbucks coupon sent to a mobile device when you walk by) also have sensitivities for privacy and users’ threshold for being hit with ads.
For LBS to fly, it has to be very targeted and very opt-in. At the NAA conference this week, Geoff Langos, applications manager of Landmark Communications, asserted that LBS services are a myth and that they “will never happen.” After some push back from the audience and other panelists, he refined his statement to include the caveat that it will never happen in a pure push form, without the necessary opt-in component.
Another factor here is the Apple iPhone, which has the potential to push forward mobile search and content adoption through a very compelling device. Apple’s track record in changing the game for portable electronics with the iPod has many speculating on the iPhone’s chances of doing the same for mobile search and entertainment. It has restrictions, as we’ve pointed out, but is nonetheless an intriguing first generation of a product that will be interesting to watch (and own if you’re listening, Apple, you can call me for my shipping address ).
In other mobile search news, Google just came out with its Maps for Windows Mobile, which basically extends its existing mobile mapping product to more devices. Google’s cache in online search should also help it gain traction on the mobile device, but given the distance we need to go in mobile local search, it’s still anyone’s game.