The New Search Wars

System-search.svgOne of the factors that has shaped the connected world over the last two decades has been the transition of browser marketshare from Netscape (the inventor), Internet Explorer (the monopolist), and then Chrome (the innovator). The importance of the browser was essentially its impact on where address bar searches terminated. This was one of the strong tailwinds behind Google’s ultimate search dominance.

In the last five years, internet businesses has been facing a new challenge in navigating the mobile universe, as the importance of search has been decreased in getting to your customers.  There are a new set of rules for mobile players.

Then yesterday, I saw Google announce that Chrome for Android and iOS has grown 100% YoY to reach 800m users.  They don’t disclose how much of that is iOS, but it’s showing strong momentum. This makes me think about how there may be a new search paradigm on mobile devices.

I suspect most general mobile searches happen within the browser, within the address bar.  The termination point is usually a website, but sometimes an app that is already in your device.

People searches probably take place in your Facebook and Linkedin apps. Local searches are perhaps in your map apps, or in dedicated apps like Yelp or Foursquare. There are more use cases where you go to a specific app for a specific type of search.

The most interesting development here is Apple’s Spotlight search.  It’s really an attempt to tie the search back to the OS.  If spotlight gets more intelligent, to understand the context of my search, it can perhaps be the start of all my searches.

I am keenly watching how mobile searches will evolve.




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