Local search via mobile is gaining steam as a way to find nearby retailers, according to the latest Smartphone Intelligence survey from online research firm Compete. Almost one in three smartphone owners has called or stopped into a local business after finding it through a local search application during the first quarter.
About a third of Android and iPhone users learned of at least two new businesses they were not aware of after turning to local search applications. "Making it easy for consumers to discover businesses via their devices opens local companies up to a whole new customer demographic, and savvy businesses should make sure they're maximizing this opportunity," said Danielle Nohe, director, technology and entertainment for Compete.
What local search apps are on users' radar? People were most aware of Google Mobile (66%), followed by Citysearch (30%), Mobile Yellow Pages (29%), and Yelp (17%). Only 6% cited Foursquare, suggesting that the social location service is still mainly the plaything of early adopters and tech bloggers rather than a mainstream mobile brand.
Compete also found that people are also increasingly logging into social networking sites on mobile phones. A third of Twitter users on smartphones send tweets mainly through their handsets, while the same proportion prefer to read Twitter posts on phones. Considering that Twitter's 140-character message limit was inspired by text messaging, one might expect an even higher percentage to do most of their tweeting from their smartphones.
A growing proportion of Facebook users are also interacting on the social network on mobile. Fourteen percent said they read their news feeds and post status updates primarily on smartphones, while more than half (52%) read feeds equally on both the PC and phone, and 46% split posting updates evenly between both. Only 5% become fans of a company's Facebook page on smartphones, with 49% still doing so primarily on their computer. So brands on Facebook shouldn't expect to generate a lot of new "Likes" via mobile compared to the desktop.
Compete's findings on Twitter and Facebook usage also seem to jibe with research from comScore last month showing that social networking is the fastest-growing mobile content category over the last year across both apps and mobile browsers.
When it comes to mobile gaming, Compete found, not surprisingly, that iPhone owners were especially heavy gamers. More than half (51%) have five or more games loaded on their phones, compared to 41% on Android phones, Windows Mobile, 25%, Palm, 20%, and BlackBerry, 9%. And 46% of BlackBerry users have not downloaded a game at all, showing that Research in Motion still has a long way to go to compete with the iPhone as an entertainment device.
Not only do iPhone users download more games, they also play them more frequently than other smartphone owners, with 37% sucked into Doodle Jump or other games in the App Store. The emergence of the iPhone as a gaming platform in its own right was underscored by Walt Disney Co.'s acquisition last week of Tapulous, the developer behind the popular "Tap Tap" line of game apps for the Apple device.
Compete's quarterly Smartphone Intelligence study is based on both a survey of 1,599 high-end phone users (and 2,558 non-smartphone owners) as well as clickstream data indicating which sites smartphone owners visit and how they use their devices.