Commentary

Can Google Survive In A Search-Free Mobile World?

It’s the billion-dollar question: Can Google thrive in an increasingly mobile world?

At present, there are some signs that the search giant is in trouble.

Last week, I mentioned that Apple's mobile OS and app businesses were beating Google’s. (The key takeaway: Despite Android’s sheer size advantage, the iOS App Store’s revenue was 80% higher than Google Play, in the third quarter of the year.)

Now comes word that a full 50% of mobile users don’t use their devices to search. That’s according to The Guardian’s Charles Arthur, who analyzed some numbers recently revealed by Google’s head of search, Amit Singhal.

Informally speaking, people are doing a ton of searching on their phones. With every tap and swipe of their thumb, they’re searching for laughs in their Instagram feed, the latest injury reports on their favorite sports app, and the warmest winter boots on Amazon.

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They’re just not typing terms into a search bar, which is still how Google makes the vast majority of its money.

“This behaviour is surely a big reason why mobile searches have been behind desktop for a long time, even though smartphones’ use has rocketed, and time spent on them is greater than for PCs,” Arthur notes.

Worse yet, “The PC base (where people still search) is static or even falling, while the number of people holding smartphones is growing,” Arthur adds. “But the latter group tends not to use search.”

It’s possible that trends will change, and Google can convince more people to search on their phones.

If not, the company that search built faces a very questionable future.

2 comments about "Can Google Survive In A Search-Free Mobile World?".
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  1. mike boland from BIA/Kelsey, October 20, 2015 at 7:59 p.m.

    This is a key topic. We just published a white paper and went deep on it: http://blog.biakelsey.com/index.php/2015/09/24/mobile-searchs-next-era-a-new-biakelsey-insight-paper/

  2. Leonard Zachary from T___n__, October 21, 2015 at 12:43 p.m.

    This is the Primary rationale for Project Fi. Mobile search is converging with real time analystics and the mobile personal assistant. All the major Digital Tech companies will need to go deeper into the mobile connectivity level to win the day in Mobile.

    btw mike your link does not work, here is what I get

    Site temporarily unavailable.

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