Feature Article (Pub: November 08)The increase in UK mobile search usage by Paul Rudman

Nielsen the independent consumer behaviour analyst has reported an increase of 25% of the number of UK users accessing the web via a mobile phone during the second and third quarters of 2008. This represents 7.3 million people compared to the 35m+ who regularly access the net via a computer who's audience in the same period only grew by 3%.

However, while Google remains the most popular site for those logging on via the desktop, on mobile internet BBC News is the most visited site, with nearly a quarter of mobile internet consumers using it.

Kent Ferguson, a senior analyst with Nielsen Online uses this data to assert that "this highlights the advantage of mobile when it comes to immediacy: people often need fast, instant access to weather or sports news and mobile can obviously satisfy this,". But I would argue that this is this more symptomatic of the inflexible and rigid search access that are inherent in the operating system of a mobile. Whilst 7.3 million users may seem a lot I still believe that the audience is still findings its feet and using web access on a mobile as a convenience tool. Currently, I would argue that mobile web users require 'fast data' ahead of 'relevant data' and are held back by the predefined options offered by the mobile phone operators.

Surely the need to know at a touch of a button the number of a local restaurant, or exhibition details of your favourite museum could in turn generate millions of search queries on their own. And this is the problem. Whilst Google has managed to incorporate quick access buttons into several handsets, this still represents only a small fraction of the 7.3million people using their phone for web access. It will therefore be interesting to see in the next 12 months how the popularity of mobile search via sources such as Google an MSN fair against traditional data resources.

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