Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mobile Search Still has a long way to go...about 17,000kms

In 2008 and early 2009 I was a mobile skeptic. I argued on a number of posts that that true mobile Internet was still years away. Then in Nov 2009 Google bought AdMob and I ate humble pie - admitting that the mobile Internet was here to stay. As a convert I became a near fanatic writing a two part piece on Tnooz (part 1 here, part 2 here) on the mobile revolution and what to expect next. I also predicted that this year mobile would "die" as a separate category and simply be subsumed into the "regular" internet.

But yesterday I was brought down to earth again and reminded how there is still so much that needs to be done to make the mobile Internet ubiquitous and universally useful.

I found myself yesterday at the TRAVELtech conference with a problem. The sole of my shoe was beginning to fall off. Rapidly. I was about to go on stage to present but became worried that between the audience and the stage my sole would fall off completely making me look more hobo and hopeless than serious and CEO like. So I did want any normal exec of the second decade of the 21st century would do. I pulled out my iphone and Googled "shoe repairs sussex st" (with sussex st being the major downtown city street behind me). I then followed up by prompting Google to accept and read my location using the GPS and manually accept that I was in "Sydney,NSW". Below is a screenshot of the search results

If you are on a device that cant see the image above, let me type out the text for you. It says
"Did you mean A B & C Shoe Repairs, Croft Rd, Crowborough, Sussex TN6 1DL United Kingdom"
A quick follow up Google search indicates that this particular shoe store is about 17,000km from my current location. Clearly the word Sussex confused the search algorithm. But how? How did the world "sussex" override that Google new exactly where I was via the GPS and new the broad region through by selection of Sydney. Either way, I was forced to put down the phone and try to find some double sided tape to save the day. I am still a mobile fan and believer but am reminded that there is much to doo before the shoe and the BOOT are fully satisfied by the phone.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes, there are still some rather minor issues with search in general. If you'd just added "Sydney" to the end of your search you would have seen a better result.

You did this by pulling an iPhone out of your pocket... think of what you'd have had to do 5 years ago or more!

SJ said...

Very few people actually use Google search on their mobile phones. It may be due to the problem you faced. This also explains why mobile apps such as Yelp are popular with smartphone users.

steve sherlock said...

Tim, I think if you had walked up onto the stage, wearing just one shoe (or boot), that would have been something quite memorable (regardless of your speech ;-)

It's an interesting topic, because if there was some sort of "distance-dial", intuitively integrated (via search panel or algorithm),then a local context starts to be embedded as opposed to a clumsy adjustment.

stock photo tips said...

@ SJ - I use the google search on my phone a couple times a day, but then again I am not trying to narrow down the results to within a few blocks.

Justin Agar said...

at an early time, we cannot say that mobile search has surpassed desktops and laptops.

Rajasthan Tours Operator said...

very nice post

Office Space said...

as long as the mobile internet connection speed is not at least equal to those for the PCs or Laptops mobile search will not get to the same levels. But after the connection speed problem is solved I bet that it's going to overtake them with ratio of 60/40.

Eugene Feldman said...

Interesting post...

Thanks