How Mobile Apps Are Bypassing Search Engines


Thinking about the future of search? There may not be one.

THE SEARCH ENGINE MOSH PIT

Missoni Dresses Google Search

Google’s recent tussle with the F.C.C. has highlighted how complex search engines have become.

  • As an example, try typing “Missoni Dresses” into Google search.
  • Instead of the once simple list, searchers now face a barrage of PPC ads and sponsored spots.

Bing is just as bad. Search engines have become, for some, a pit of confusion – with rich companies getting prime position at the front of the crowd.

THE RISE OF MOBILE SEARCH APPS

Yelp Mobile App

But as Professor Eric Goldman points out in the NY Times article, The Line Between ‘Aggressive’ and ‘Evil’ at Google, consumers are increasingly bypassing search engines by using mobile apps:

“If they like Yelp and Expedia, they just put the app on their phones.”

UrbanSpoon, Shazam, RedLaser – these are aggregator apps, rounding up relevant data on food, music and shopping. They don’t require you to go anywhere near a search engine to find the info you need.

TIE-INS WITH SOCIAL MEDIA

FourSquare Mobile App

To make their search experience even richer, some mobile apps have integrated social media.

  • FourSquare is one of these – users are encouraged to check in at various places and share their discoveries & reviews with friends on Facebook and Twitter.
  • To compete with the Yelps of the world, it has recently developed a ratings system, local search function and a “recently opened” feature.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO SEARCH ENGINES

Interesting question. If mobile apps and social media recommendations replace the “shopping function,” then search engines are left with the “information function” (What is the capital of Albania? What is the Yiddish word for cheese?), the “reputation function” (What do we know about this company/person?) and other non-commercial uses.

None of these are big money earners for Google. And that’s a lot of office real estate they’ve built.

Watch this space…

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