Great observation by Jason (Fierce Mobile) When Google reported its third quarter earnings earlier this month, the company trumpeted a number of milestones, perhaps none quite so impressive as its enormous mobile search growth. According to Google, mobile queries have increased 500 percent over the past two years, with the company now on track to generate more than $1 billion in annual revenue from its mobile search and display advertising initiatives. “Of course, a lot more of those queries are now coming from Android phones,” senior vice president of product management Jonathan Rosenberg said during Google’s Q3 earnings call–during its Q2 call three months earlier, Rosenberg stated searches on Android devices alone increased 300 percent over the first half of this year. But Android isn’t solely responsible for Google’s mobile search advances–digital ad network Chitika recently reported that Google carries about 97 percent of all search traffic on Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone, trailed by Yahoo (2.25 percent) and Microsoft Bing (0.58 percent). Google’s mobile homepage accounts for about 42 percent of its iPhone search traffic, while the Safari toolbar sends roughly 49 percent–the Google Mobile App for iPhone makes up the rest.
Google’s dominance in mobile search far outstrips its lead in traditional online search share–according to comScore, Google sites accounted for 66.1 percent of all web searches conducted in September 2010, up from 65.4 percent the previous month. Yahoo is second at 17.4 percent, followed by Microsoft at 11.1 percent. So what makes Google such an unstoppable force in mobile search? It likely comes down to mobile website performance: According to the Yankee Group’s third annual mobile site survey, Google beats all rivals across a host of usability metrics including page loading speeds, the volume of data downloaded, access reliability and the frequency and types of mobile ads served. Google scored 81 points in the Yankee Group mobile website trial, followed by Bing at 70 points and AOL at 69–Google owes its top ranking to factors like support for location-based services, reduced advertising and voice-enabled search functionality as well as its user-friendly interface and speedy response times.
Yankee Group surveyed 48 mobile websites in all, across four verticals: Technology, transit, retail and national wireless operators. Study participants in New York City and San Francisco accessed sites across a variety of device models spanning all four nationwide U.S. networks. Walmart topped the retail category with 75 points, followed by Best Buy at 68 points. Speaking to IDG News, Yankee Group’s Anywhere Consumer research group director Carl Howe praised retailers’ improving mobile web presence: “They have realized this is a viable and powerful medium for addressing their customers and I think we’ll see a real battle here,” he said. “It won’t surprise me to see the shopping sites get close to Google’s score over the next few years mainly because there’s money in it.” Transit also fared well: JetBlue, Amtrak and San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transport scored a three-way tie for first with 73 points each. Then there are the operators… While Sprint (NYSE:S) collected a semi-respectable 59 points, AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) earned just 15 points each, and T-Mobile USA mustered just 14 points. Wow. Let’s hope that someday they realize the mobile web is a viable and powerful medium for addressing their customers as well.