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Mobile Search Roundup: Men Prefer Maps; Schibsted; Google In Japan; Yahoo Patents

Top search app: Maps and directions top the list of mobile search killer apps? at least among middle-aged British men. This is the key finding of a recent Yell.com survey of 1,052 U.K. users. Overall, 40 percent of users said maps, directions and directories were their favorite msearch apps. Yell.com has dubbed these die-hard direction fans FUN-ctionals (ouch!). The user segment is made up of self-employed middle aged men ?searching the mobile web for functional, day-to-day items such as train times or finding their nearest DIY store.? Other top mobile web adoption drivers include email & IM, mobile banking, transport information and news & sports.

Schibsted adds sponsored links: Google isn?t the only game in town. Norwegian publisher Schibsted has created its own answer to AdWords and now offers sponsored links through Sesam, its mobile content and search engine portal. (Proof that brands can and will go it alone.) The service, powered by mobile search provider mobilePeople, lets Sesam display two sponsored links (charged on a PPC basis and determined through a keyword auction) with each set of search results.

Google lags in Japan: That?s the key message of this survey conducted by JR Tokai Express Research. (via What Japan Thinks.) Granted, the sample size is small (only 173), but it is a mobile savvy country and surveys that seek to examine users? brand awareness and mobile Internet usage merit consideration. That said, almost 70 percent of users (114 respondents) said they used Yahoo, 41 percent favored the search engine option listed in the service provider menu (71), and 35 percent (61) had used Google Mobile. (The survey allowed user to choose multiple answers.)

Brand control: Can brands keep a bigger slice of the ad rev pie by becoming search engines in their own right? (Based on the lessons of the fixed Internet it?s a safe bet brands will rise up to do just that.) The scenario gained some credibility with the recent release of a bundled search and marketing offer by white label search provider Fast Search & Transfer. Much of the coverage ? including this article in Information Week - focuses on how the solution may boost the capabilities of online media companies to take on the likes of Google & Co. No comments on how such bundled solutions can also potentially shift the balance of power in the mobile Web in favor of media companies and content owners. After all, they have the content and the audience?and soon they?ll wake up to the potential of mobile search to monetize both. (Norway?s Schibsted did just this and has pulled ahead of Google in Norway. Granted, it?s a single example ? but all mega-trends start small.)

Patents:Yahoo has filed a slew of patents demonstrating a strong interest in podcasts, including technology to send podcasts to mobile devices, according to this detailed post in SEOByThe Sea. Yahoo?s is likely gearing up to provide podcasting features and functions for the iPhone (iPhone will include Google and Yahoo search engines within iPhone?s Safari browser) This thoughtful post from macnn.com connects the dots and concludes: ?The patents are clearly earmarked for such devices as the iPhone, as the lead patent makes that clear by stating that the present invention relates to a system and method for pushing podcasts to mobile devices, such as cellular phones, from a remote subscription management system.?

Quick stats: Some insightful stats and observations about mobile content and mobile search from MobHappy.com and the gang at ForumOxford. The recent conference featured speakers from Google, Vodafone and 3. Adrian Blair, Google Strategic Partner Development (and keynote), said that 20 percent of all search terms (both Web and mobile Web) were new/unique. Vodafone?s Senior Technology Strategist Daniel Appelquist said that half of Vodafone?s page views came from the least popular 84 percent of sites overall. Long live the Long Tail!

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