Google Releases Mobile App Enhancements

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While lots of people sit around and wait for Google to really make its big move into mobile search, it’s fairly quietly rolling out some pretty nify mobile applications and services. Today, its got an enhanced version of its Google Maps for Mobile, adding traffic information for 30 cities and some other nice touches, while it’s also added the ability to further customize Google Personalized Homepage for mobile. Both were pretty cool applications to begin with, these enhancements make them just that much better.

What’s sort of interesting is that Google keeps chugging along with these things (though they’re not immune from the occasional mobile misstep), while so many people wait with baited breath for their big entrance into mobile search. But maybe that big entrance isn’t coming. I’ve never understood people that were so big on mobile search. Half the time, they were talking about people searching for ringtones or wallpapers, then the majority of the rest were people hung up on some sort of paid-search plan combining both pointlessness and uselessness. Very few people seem to really have an understanding of mobile search, and how it’s vastly different than web search.

A post over at the MEX blog lays it out pretty clearly: Mobile users don’t search, they locate. Marek Pawlowski makes the point that mobile users are “mission-driven”, meaning they’re after something in particular when they surf, rather than just generally browsing. So the perfect mobile search isn’t necessarily search, it’s something that delivers people the right information when they ask for it — which is what these Google applications are doing. So perhaps Google’s relative non-entry into “mobile search” isn’t because of indecision or incompetence, but rather because they realize their resources are better spent on building better, narrower mobile apps and services rather than a more built-out version of their XHTML search interface. Maybe it’s time to declare mobile search dead and move on with the realization that delivering wide-ranging and general links to information isn’t a great idea for mobile users; that delivering them specific information relevant to and determined by their wants and needs is. And that doesn’t necessarily demand a web-style search engine reformatted for a small screen.

[tags]mobile, google, mobile search[/tags]

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