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Summary:

If you have tried to do search on non-qwerty mobile phones, then you are all too familiar with the frustrations that go along with it. Piper Jaffray projects the global mobile search revenues will generate $11 billion by 2008. While that number might seem a tad […]

If you have tried to do search on non-qwerty mobile phones, then you are all too familiar with the frustrations that go along with it. Piper Jaffray projects the global mobile search revenues will generate $11 billion by 2008. While that number might seem a tad overoptimistic, the lure of the billions has most mobile search start-ups and many big companies looking for alternative ways to conduct mobile search.

Start-ups like 4INFO are using SMS for search. Others like PromptU are using voice-based search technologies, where you speak into the phones and the search results are sent back to your handset. Another company that is making a lot of waves in this space is San Diego-based V-Enable. The company showed off its search capabilities at CTIA and claims that it was getting 90% accurate results and was sending them back to the mobile phone in less than a second.

But will it be enough for these tiny tots to beat giants like Google, which just today filed a patent for a voice-based search technology.

What are your thoughts on mobile search and which technology would you bet on in the mobile search domain? Will Google be the Google of mobile or do you see an opportunity here for another vendor? Send me your feedback, and post comments.

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  1. Surely the first step in this market is for mobile phone manufacturers to optimize their handsets for full voice operation. So far this functionality is unreliable and limited.

    Voice search is still a long way down the road.

  2. Mobile search isn’t the correct term, it’s mobile info .

    What and how you query will be completely different using a phone than a PC.

    No, Google will not be the “Google” of mobile search. Unless Google can find a way to utilize the camera on the phone, and a RFID reader, they will be missing out on the biggest database for mobile search.

    The camera and RFID reader WILL BE your “mouse” for mobile search.

    Physical actions and your location will replace typing and keywords for search.

  3. While I think the UI issues in mobile search are interesting, contextual information like location will be highly influential. In the future, I see mobile search evolving into a collection of “context based” search verticals.

  4. I’ve used Google SMS for a while now, and while it didn’t always give me the info I needed, it worked pretty well. Now I have a web interface on my phone, so I just use that. But I’m a lot more willing to put up with the numeric-alpha keypad than most folks.

    While Promptu certainly has a good chance to carve out a niche with carriers, I would love something more generic. A neural network that ‘learned’ phrases by listening to voices and gathering user input about the relevancy of the results would be an interesting solution. In other words, the search engine is built by the user queries (though obviously it would need to be thoroughly seeded first).

  5. In order to gain “global revenues” one has to start making business globally. So far, I don’t see a lot applications or business models which truely embrace the fact that there is a world outside the borders of the US.

    I notice a lot of people getting tired of the fact that even in this world of the Net there still are so many just US based companies. The Asian market is seperated fromt the European through language issues.

    But Europe – at least the part I am talking about – is capable of doing business in English. If you would let us.

    Mobil info, for example combining routing information with Google Maps? Good luck. We are happy to have country borders for main Europe. SMS services to receive information? Yes, it is very complicated to actually take the mobile providers and say “guys, we would like to have a global campaign and market world wide ‘send text to xxx’ and do response”.

    It is the basics which are not covered, but then again: This lays a lot of ground for interesting European startups which will start earning money on a market ‘you’ could have had easily.

  6. If Google figures out “”Mobile Speech”, please notify Fidelity Investments cause Fidelity must have the Dumbest VOICE Recognition on the planet!
    skibare

  7. Could TellMe be an interesting partner/acquisition candidate for GOOG?

  8. Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) may be good enough in controlled acoustic environments, like your home, but it is not robust enough considering the quality of hardware and the mobile everchanging environments where you may want to make a spoken search. In other words, baseline recognition quality would be poor.

    On top of that, and a bigger issue is that current search engines are optimized for key word(s) search and those keywords can be very specific and very very difficult to recognize, even for an ASR system with a large vocabulary in an ideal environment.

    The merit of ‘asking’ rather than ‘typing’ a query, is that one can be wordy; the drawback is that we are limited in the choice of words we can speak (and reasonably expect to be recognized).

    The lure of Spoken Search (and, more in general, spoken interaction with computers) will drive R&D in speech recognition to a point where it may be usable, but the real challenge for Spoken Search is to develop new search engines and methods based on connotative description(s) as opposed to the current denotative keyword(s) approach.

    User: “I need the recipe of a French dish of boiled meats and vegetables”
    System: searching for “Pot-au-Feu”

  9. Danny Sullivan Wednesday, April 12, 2006

    Considering they launched voice search back in 2001, I vote not hot any time soon. It’s been down for well over a year, if not longer. Not only do people not realize it already exists, but no one complained when it disappeared. Cool they have a patent; sad they lost the product, I suppose.

  10. The patent was actually filed in 2001…maybe it was granted yesterday?

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