When I see emergent consensus about something, my instinctive reaction is to look for why it's wrong.
Well, there seems to be a growing consensus that "mobile search" is a wonderful new phenomenon, and that people using their handsets will absolutely need a different experience to plain old PC-based Google or similar.
"People don't just browse the web on their handset! Obviously they need clever, context-based platforms that try & give them a short cut to what they really want!"
Hmm. I see lots of non-sequiturs, unsupported assumptions and apparent misunderstanding of cause and effect, plus maybe a tiny kernel of truth that's in danger of being swamped in nonsense & poor user experience.
1) Until recently, most people didn't use "the real Internet" on their phones simply because it was slow (especially roundtrip latency when you clicked on a link), and costly (real or just perceived - basically people usually don't know how much it costs). Of course you didn't browse randomly - it was a pain in the butt to get online at all, let alone just wander through the web on a whim.
2) With faster networks like HSDPA (and especially lower latency in UMTS / EV-DO) it's getting easier, with better user experience. Even re-engineered GPRS isn't too bad these days. Also more sensible flatrate data tariffs like T-Mobile Web'n'Walk are emerging.
3) Screen sizes are increasing (QVGA is common, with VGA on the way), phones are getting faster processors, and browser software is getting better (Opera, Pocket IE, Nokia's etc, plus support for Flash, AJAX and all that cool Web2.0 stuff) . While there's still some way to go, the device-based browsing user experience is rapidly improving.
4) Operators are desperate to start generating advertising revenue for mobile users
5) A million startups are trying to beat Google at its own game, albeit on a different device
6) Lots of people are trying to rebrand "walled gardens" as somehow beneficial to the end user, despite the end user becoming more open Internet-ised with every passing day
Net result: despite the improving capabilities of phones & networks to support access to the real Internet, various whining voices are trying to convince us that we don't want it.
There's nothing worse than technology that second-guesses what you really want, because it's deeply frustrating when it decides it knows better than you & gets it wrong. It's bad enough that even on a PC & fixed Internet, Google itself tries to force me to the local Google page when I'm travelling (no!! if I type in Google.com as a URL, I DON'T want Google.be or Google.co.uk or Google.Tajikistan, I want .com). It's worse still when companies like Yahoo! assume that just because you're using a mobile device that you either "obviously" want the lousy WAP site rather than the real web version (Yahoo.com) or you need an automated banner telling you to upgrade your browser (Yahoo.co.uk). These are both examples of how to use mobile/wireless "context" information stupidly.
But the absolute worst would be a handset-optimised search engine that assumes that if I'm in Brussels and type in "restaurant", that I'm obviously looking for one nearby & presents me with a list of 15 which are so unpopular that they've needed to pay to be included. What audacity to assume that because it knows a small amount of "context" (location) it knows the real context of my search? Maybe I'm about to get a on a flight to Lisbon (not with TAP Airlines, obviously) & want to know where to go when I arrive? Maybe I'm talking about somewhere I went in Prague the week before, and forgot the address? Maybe I'm thinking of opening my own restaurant business (Disruptive Darwins - only cloned meat & GM vegetables) and want some advice?
By all means, do a polite Google-style line with "did you mean Restaurants nearby in Brussels?" but don't you dare try & second-guess what my real context is & force me to wade through your inane & irrelevant suggestions.
In fact, just give me proper mobile access to Google (and default to .com not .fr or .mobi) & get out of my way.
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