This interesting and highly controversial post suggests that this is the action mobile operators should take. Rather than reinvent the wheel (or in this case mobile search), mobile operators should learn from the lessons of the Web and grant Google a top-notch spot in their mobile search schemes. Put simply, operators that endeavour to create (let alone brand) their mobile search offerings are blind to the obvious dominance of Google. The author wrote: ?The only question is how long the major carriers will hold on to the belief that they can create a better model than the one that?s proven itself time and time again on the Web and in the mobile environment abroad. Hopefully, the carriers will stop being cell-fish and embrace Google like the rest of the world has. Then they could really raise the bar.? [In this same vein, operators should abandon building out their portals (after all, if the strategy had worked, then AOL and CompuServe would own our online content experiences) and any efforts to lock-in their customers. Hear! Hear!]
However, what begins as a refreshing treatise on freedom of choice quickly degenerates into rhetoric arguing for the tried (and tired) status quo. The underlying premise: Allow dominant brands to dominate because they are dominant. That, to me, makes about as much sense as asking the providers of alternative operating systems or browsers to stop trying to make their mark on the mobile space because Microsoft is the obvious leader on PCs. The mobile Internet, as the author correctly pointed out, represents a whole new ball game with a lot of new rules. Likewise, it creates opportunities for a lot of new players. (And don?t we also have access to more than Google online anyway?)
But there?s more to this post. It also documents some significant stats on mobile search, drawn from a panel discussion during the recent Search Insider Summit. ?Over 80% of all mobile search and content interaction in the U.S. takes place ?on deck? (within a handset application) as opposed to ?off deck? (within the mobile Web or WAP environment). According to Omar Tawakol, chief advertising officer at Medio (a company that creates such applications for carriers), this contrasts sharply with the mobile landscape outside the U.S., where the ratio is flipped, and approximately 80% of all mobile search and content interaction occurs ?off deck? on the open Web.?
And most intriguing of all, the post extrapolates from recent deals between Google and handset makers to make a convincing case for a Google phone. (Google has brand, Google Talk, Gmail, as well as a slew of apps that could make this a completely user-friendly and immersive experience.) ?Taking it to the next level, how about a camera with simple tagging and uploading functionality to post to Picasa or YouTube? And throw in a direct-connect jack to view pics and video on TV. You could also add a feature to enable blog posts on the fly through Blogger. Or incorporate Dodgeball (Google?s mobile social networking service) to locate friends and family nearby.?
Predictably, the final piece of the puzzle ? namely targted advertising ? also shines when served by Google. (?Google is primed and ready to bring its subtle, targeted ads to the mobile environment both from a sponsored search and contextual perspective.?) In a word: Google is armed and ready to dictate all facets of our mobile experience ? and can do it so well - so why not just let it?
To be clear: Mobile operators are encouraged to align with Google. Indeed, the familiarity of Google may be the trigger that will motivate users to use mobile search ? period. However, if it?s all about delivering a mobile search experience to delight the customer, then a mix of branded and white-label covers all the bases. Consider DoCoMo?s open approach to mobile search (which I hear other operators are lining up to emulate). Another testament to a blended approach is the traction MCN is getting. (Its business model is built on the idea of aggregating results from a multitude of search engines.)
Soon the excitement over the daily body count (which operator has tied up with which single search engine provider) will be history and we?ll shift our attention to what really matters: How operators are offering users an abundance of choice and moving beyond merely retrofitting Web search for the mobile space.