Every month, StatCounter comes out with their ranking reports that are combed over by bloggers to find trends, see changes, and note anything newsworthy, such as StumbleUpon overtaking Facebook for US traffic sent. The one chart that none of us ever look at is Mobile Search. The domination in that arena is so pronounced, nobody bothers reporting on it.
Google delivers over 97% of the mobile searches in the world today. The combined challengers at Yahoo, Bing, Yandex RU, Ask Jeeves, and everyone else peaked in February, 2011, when they were closest to achieving a full 3% of the global mobile search market.
How did Google become so dominant? More importantly, should anyone else continue to try?
Keys to domination
FOr years, Google has controlled between 60%-70% of browser searches. The company has become a verb – you don’t search for something, you “Google it”. Despite their browser success, it’s nothing compared to the absolute shellacking they’ve handed to competitors in mobile search. Name-recognition is the biggest factor, but here are the three other major factors that took them there:
- Accessibility – Across the various operating systems, Google is there. It’s either pre-installed or easily added (and prompted any time you one visits Google on a browser). It’s hard to find a smartphone or tablet that doesn’t have Google search on it in some form or fashion.
- Better Features – Take a look at the image to the right. Anything pertaining to any subject can be searched for in ways and using filters that others simply do not have (or haven’t publicized well enough). Voice search is perfect for mobile devices. Google Places is the most comprehensive localized directory in existence. Every month, more features keep popping up. It’s unlikely that anyone can put together a stronger suite of features now or in the near future.
- Focus – When Google moved one of the most successful tech executives of all time, Marissa Mayer, over to Mobile/Local, it proved that they are starting to move beyond Adwords as a singular revenue generator and put much more emphasis on emerging technological trends. They recognized early on that the world was moving towards iPads and Droids as primary computing devices and have since added social to their priorities (which also ties in nicely with mobile search).
Is there room for others?
Despite the most lopsided victory in a mobile tech vertical, Google search is vulnerable. That seems like an insane statement considering where everyone stands now, but in today’s mercurial world of technology, the champion can lose market share.
Will any other company be able to take Google off the #1 spot any time in the next few years? Of course not. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t try. The mobile industry is growing faster than any other major segment in technology. There’s money to be made, and not all of it has to go to Google.
It will take a breakthrough. That’s easy to say but it’s not as unlikely as it seems. Products and services have the ability to grow wickedly fast – look at Google+ gaining 20 million users in 3 weeks.
This isn’t just a hypothetical. Someone, whether it’s Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, or someone we don’t even know about yet, will bring out mobile search technology that will revolutionize things. It will be able to rightsize the market and take 5%-20% away from Google. If that sounds small, consider this: by the end of 2011, there will be over 1 billion mobile searches performed daily.
Google may still reign supreme for a while, but a competitor could still churn a lot of butter even with a mere 10% of that milk. Keep trying, guys. Google isn’t indestructible.