When we wrote about mobile search a few weeks ago, we weren’t surprised to see that the big online search brands like Google, Yahoo, MSN, and AOL were leading the list. But go2? — M:Metrics says the Irvine, CA-based startup has more than 450,000 users per month. We followed up with the CEO Lee Hancock, who said that the number is even higher at 1 million users per month.
How did go2 bring in that many mobile searchers in such a young market? Hancock says the site’s success relies on its early entrance back in 1999, which has enabled it to develop 70-plus targeted mobile WAP sites, like go2 Golf and go2 Movies, as well as gain good placement of its WAP sites on carrier menus.
Hancock also says that this early move has been both a blessing and a curse: “the good thing is we won the race, the bad thing is there wasn’t a prize at the end.” He’s referring to the fact that the company hit a wall in 2002 because the mobile ad and mobile web markets were nonexistent. That’s when the company under went a management buyout through an assets acquisition from the original company go2 Systems.
Four years later the company is doing better as mobile markets are growing. The company uses Third Screen Media for advertising, and has an auto-locate feature based on GPS. The company is still not profitable, though, and recently announced a financing round of $13 million from investors, including Canada’s Geosign Corp.
Go2 wants its carrier-friendly service to be a cell phone user’s first choice for any type of local, on-the-go searching. They’ve managed to bring in a significant amount of users, but that’s over a very long period of time. Unfortunately for go2 when it comes to mobile search, it’s really all about branding and Google has them beat hands down with over 5 million monthly users, after basically a modest amount of effort. As Hancock says himself “go2 is not a household name.”
Our recent mobile search poll says 50 percent of users choose Google for mobile search, and 29 percent are still scratching their heads over searching via a cell phone. go2 might have been the first to market, but go2 is also facing stormy weather, now that the major online brands are moving in faster. We’ll see how long the company can survive that onslaught.