Senthil Kumar Sunderam, Head ? Mobile for MSN and Windows Live said that the search strategy has to be different for different cities. More searches take place from B and C class cities. MSN has struck some deals, and are currently in talks with operators. The real challenge for search lies in understanding what the consumer wants and giving the right result.
Harbinder Narula, Head of Content Alliances for Google outlined their philosophy ? people are searching for something, and we have to figure it out. Does the search need to be open ended or close ended?
Pankaj Sethi, President ? VAS for Tata Teleservices expects a paradigm to evolve on the mobile. The uptake of search queries on the mobile isn?t happening yet, and we are challenged by language differences. Perhaps it will be voice based. He also wondered about whether there is a need for a branded search partner.
Krishna Kumar from Microsoft asked about why operators don?t want themselves to be a mere pipe ? why do they want to decide for the consumers? And why shouldn?t search companies stay independent of the operator?
Sethi responded that the operator provides the consumer with content, and that content needs to be searched. Traffic tomorrow will go in a different direction ? towards information - and an operator might think that it takes the customer away from him. Some see it as an alliance, others as conflict. Narula feels that it is the requirement of the business model that leads them into the walled garden. But that doesn?t mean that they aren?t open to a separate search. They will move to a situation where the user will decide what he wants and from where he wants it.
Asked about the biggest challenges with SMS and voice based searches, Narula responded that he personally feels that both mediums have limitations, but
SMS is a low cost access medium. SMS has a limitation of the number of characters, but voice is the way to go in the Indian market. Any content providing company faces a language barrier.