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Mobile Search: Are We There Yet?

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Some ad executives say that if we have to keep asking ourselves if 2010 represents the year of mobile then we're clearly not there yet. Maybe, but Google released stats this week that suggest we're closer than many think.

Also consider this as the year comes to a close. On Wednesday, Microsoft launched a slew of applications for search on mobile devices, and EBay acquired mobile application developer Critical Path Software to boost ecommerce. By 2014, IDC predicts the global market for mobile applications will exceed $35 billion. The research firm estimates mobile app downloads will increase from 10.9 billion in 2010 to nearly 76.9 billion in 2014, as developers create applications for personal and business use.

Google this week released search trends from mobile phones on Black Friday for general merchandise and consumer electronics. The findings confirm what many in the industry have been waiting for. Consumers began searching earlier this year for Black Friday deals, and Google experienced big increased in deal-seeking terms compared with last year. Terms such as coupons helped spur an increase in searches on mobile phones by 250%--all related to Black Friday deals.

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Out of the top 100 mobile searches black Friday terms accounted for 10% during the week prior and after Black Friday. Those include Black Friday, Walmart Black Friday, Black Friday Deals, Best buy Black Friday, and Black Friday Ads. The top shopping categories searched on mobile devices during the same time frame include Apparel, Consumer Electronics, Footwear, and Jewelry. The top products searched on mobile were shoes, tech products, lingerie, jewelry, and flowers.

During the Thanksgiving week and Black Friday, Google saw 205% growth in price comparison searches on mobile devices during the week of Nov. 22, 2010, compared with the same week in the prior year. The search engine also saw 255% growth in 'Store Locator' searches on mobile devices. These were top searches in category with words 'find,' 'where,' and 'buy' (excluding 'best buy' for the retail store).

For those thinking about tweaking paid search ads running on mobile, the most popular tech gadget searches last week include ipod/ipod touch, otterbox, amazon kindle, mytouch 4g, slingbox, roku, pdanet, vizio, tivo, and at&t phones.

Google also recently conducted a survey on the AdMob network. Of those who responded, 45% said they spent at least $10 on a purchase via their mobile device, and 34% spent more than $20. Fifty nine percent of respondents expect to use their mobile device more in their holiday shopping this season, 45% use their mobile device in addition to their desktop for holiday shopping, and 67% use their mobile device to find a business and later make a purchase at that business in-person.

Was 2010 the year of mobile? If not, what's required to get there and how long must the industry wait?

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