Olympics Search Review: Google And Yahoo Get Gold; AOL Grabs Silver; Live Places Last With Bronze


imageThe 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing are supposed to be one of the biggest digital events of all time with tons of content being available for all three screens: TV, Internet and Mobile. So, with the Olympics in full swing and viewers hungry to get the latest results in everything from basketball to equestrian, we thought it was fitting to check in and see how well things are being presented on the mobile phone. As the games proceed, we’ll be taking a look at how things are shaking out. Here’s the first of a series, tackling the question, which of the major search engines — Google (NSDQ: GOOG), Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), Microsoft’s (NSDQ: MSFT) Live Search, or AOL (NYSE: TWX) — are providing the best mobile experience? To answer that question, we simply searched the word “Olympics” from each of the search engines using their mobile version. We picked Sprint’s (NYSE: S) Samsung Instinct to conduct the review. Google and Yahoo were such close contenders, we are awarding Google with the 18-Karat gold medal and Yahoo with a 14-Karat version. In general, we think this is a good first attempt by all search engines, but there’s a lot lacking. Where’s the interaction and the specialized mobile content? It’s not here, and painfully shows how these companies are Internet first and mobile second. Here’s the detailed results:

18 Karat Gold: Google.

— The features: Google wins the higher quality gold because its first item in its results is the entire medal count for the top three countries (China, U.S. and South Korea). Next, Google listed news headlines, including “Broadcasters knew of Singer’s body double.” Then, web page results, such as the International Olympic Committee, NBCOlympics.com and Wikipedia. At the bottom of the page, it linked to more results in: Images, Local businesses and Mobile Web.

— Ads: There was one ad at the bottom of the page from mippin.com/usa, claiming “Latest Olympics 08, Web Video News.”

— Overall Review: The site was easy to use, and provided a good, clean logical experience. However, there was no fancy offerings like alerts, videos or photos (the images were mostly of the Olympics rings when you clicked through). It gets major points for having the medal counts, providing some interesting info to the user right away.

14 Karat Gold: Yahoo’s OneSearch.

— Features: The first category is Web pages, which Yahoo definitely excelled at by providing the most relevant results. It listed the Official Beijing Olympics site, followed by NBCOlympics.com and Yahoo’s Olympics page. The second category was for Mobile Web results (something Google didn’t even have): Yahoo’s 2008 Beijing Games at m.yahoo.com; NBC’s mobile page at mobile.nbcolympics.com; and BBC Sports at news.bbc.co.uk. It then listed the most recent news articles and had a category called Yahoo Answers, which tackled questions such as the Olympics sign is blue, yellow, black and red and green, what places do they represent?

After the jump, read more about Yahoo and about AOL receiving the Silver medal, and Live coming in last with Bronze.

Photo by: mujitra

— Ads: The Yahoo site had two ads, one at the top and one at the bottom. The one at the top advertised news alerts provided by m.4info.net/Olympics. The other was from mippin, advertising video for your mobile phone.

— Overall Review: Google gets the Gold for the simple fact that it is provided instant information, but really Yahoo has a ton more content and is the more thorough offering. It also provides more relevant Web and mobile page results, such as a link to the official homepage and a link to NBC’s mobile page. If you click through to Yahoo’s mobile page for sports, the medal results appear and there’s the Beijing’s weather forecast and other news. It still lacks mobile-specific content.

Silver: AOL

— Features: The results kicks off with Local results, for which there are none. It then offers web listings, including the Olympics International Committee, NBCOlympics.com, and links to the Encyclopedia and Wikipedia. The next category of Mobile Web results oddly includes links to an iPhone story from USA Today; a BusinessWeek story called “The Spam Olympics”; and then humbly to Yahoo. There’s images of the Olympic rings and the Special Olympics; and the news category provides the top headlines; and unique to any of the sites are relevant ringtones for sale by Thumbplay, including the Olympic Fanfare, the Olympic Spirit and Los Luchadores (translated as ‘The Wrestlers’).

— Ads: It lists a 2008 Beijing Olympics travel package at the top, coupled with a ringtone ad. At the bottom, it has a link to Olympic alerts from 4info.

— Overall Review: AOL gets points for having a ton of content, although a lot of it isn’t relevant, and it’s a bit messy looking. It gets a lot of credit for trying to sell you a ringtone. Isn’t that what this is about? These sites know you are on a phone, and should be offering you relevant experiences. Besides, there’s a lot of music tied in with the Olympics.

Bronze: Microsoft


strip that fat

Very nice review of the respective services. "AOL gets a lot of credits for trying to sell you a ring tone", lol. I'm surprised Wikipedia would be considered that relevant as my impression of the content there is that it would be more static rather than the regularly updating latest results you would be after here. As you said, I guess you would have hoped to have things like video and alerts this time round, but maybe next time.

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