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iPhone apps are Google's biggest threat in mobile search

(Jason Hiner, TechSanityCheck) Google created the Android mobile OS because it wants its search engine to remain relevant as the world migrates more toward mobile computing. But Google’s biggest challenge in mobile search is not other search engines or platforms, it’s apps — particularly iPhone apps.

When I filled up the iPhone with mobile apps as part of my recent experiment, one of the first apps that I downloaded and put on the iPhone home screen was the Google app. Since Google is the home page on all the PCs and laptops that I work on, I assumed my behavior on the iPhone would be similar to the computer. I was wrong.

Once I downloaded a fleet of useful iPhone apps, I quickly discovered that I used Google far less on the iPhone than I do on a computer - even over Wi-Fi, and even when doing many of the same activities. That is partly due to the fact that mobile search needs to improve, but it is also do to the nature of the smartphone itself.

When I’m sitting at a computer, I typically use Google at least 2-3 times per hour. It’s usually the first place I go to get information. Google is not as much of a sleuth as it is a concierge. For example, when I’m pulling up a site, I often don’t use a bookmark or type the URL into the address bar. It’s just quicker to open my home page (Google) and type in the company name. This behavior is a bit lazy, but it’s effective because it’s the path of least resistance.

However, the opposite is true on smartphones — especially the iPhone with so many specialized apps and no qwerty keyboard. In my tests with the iPhone, I discovered that Google is usually my last resort for finding information. In fact, I typically only use Google search 2-3 times per day from the iPhone.

Typing is just not as fast on a smartphone (even with the full qwerty keyboard on BlackBerry). Pointing, scrolling, and selecting are all much easier and quicker. As a result, many of the things that I would usually do with a Google search from my computer, I do through an app on the iPhone.

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