Video interviews: Mobile search requires a radically different approach in the mobile environment

At the MEX 2008 conference, we’ll be looking at the user experience of mobile search from two rather different perspectives. One view will be given by Scott Jenson, who leads mobile UI development for search giant Google. The other will be provided by Steve Ives, CEO of mobile search start-up Taptu.

Both will be responding to point #6 on the MEX Manifesto, entitled, ‘Search requires a radically different approach in the mobile environment’.

True to the spirit of the MEX conference, each speaker will put customer behaviour at the centre of their presentation, explaining how their particular approach to mobile search is based on user needs.

Also in the MEX spirit, we’ll be allowing each speaker a 20 minute time period to present their ideas and then giving the conference attendees a full 20 minutes to question them on their approach.

Both Scott and Steve have taken the time to sit down with me ahead of the conference and do video interviews to give you an insight into their opinions.

I spoke with Steve most recently and you can see our interview on YouTube below.

Steve Ives, CEO, Taptu

A couple of months ago I published my interview with Scott Jenson. If you haven’t already seen it, you can check it out on YouTube below.

Scott Jenson, Manager of Mobile UI, Google

I hope you’ll join us at the MEX conference in London on 27th – 28th May 2008 to take part in the debate. Delegate places are priced at GBP 1499 and you can register on-line at

To give you an idea of my views on this topic, here is the full MEX Manifesto statement on this issue and some stats and questions to get you thinking:

We believe…
Search requires a radically different approach in the mobile environment. To find the answers they are looking for in the time they have available, mobile users need access to the widest range of search techniques, yet these must be provided within a highly constrained interface.

The background
A group of friends at a restaurant seeking the answer to a particular question. A commuter walking along a busy street trying to find the time of the next train home. A teenager in his bedroom searching for a video clip. An executive looking for a relevant email as he goes into a meeting. Is there a single mobile interface which can support such diverse search requirements?

Searching for digital information with a desktop computer has been built around keyword input and a summarised results page. Google, Ask, Yahoo and Microsoft Live are variations on a very similar theme. The giants of web-based search are seeking ways to expand their pay-per-click advertising franchises to a larger audience with little consideration for the vastly different behavioural characteristics of mobile users.

However, there are a growing number of innovative start-ups building search engines optimised for mobile. Techniques include asynchronous, message-based services employing a combination of human operators and advanced databases. There are browser-based tools which return search queries as neatly packaged pages with the layout optimised for their context. Some companies are even creating whole new hardware interaction layers to add a third dimensional element to the mobile search experience.

To get you thinking

  • Is mobile search an application or an entirely new interface methodology?
  • How can we embed appropriate search techniques within core mobile applications, enabling users to jump easily from a name in their address book to a list of all the communications they’ve had with that individual?
  • What are the hardware and software innovations which can enrich search on mobile devices? How will new sensors, support for 3D graphics and location awareness be applied?

Stat Spots

  • $4.8bn: Revenues from mobile search services will rise to $4.8bn worldwide by 2013. | (Source: Juniper Research)
  • 40%: Just under half of mobile search revenues will be generated by ‘local’ search enquiries, making it the single most popular type of search. | (Source: Juniper Research)
  • 59%: Nearly 6 in 10 iPhone users use mobile search services from their handset, driven by easy access to the web and the superior browsing experience provided by the large screen. This compares with 37% of smartphone users and 6.1% across the whole mobile market. | (Source: M:Metrics)
  • 6.1%: Just over 6% of mobile users access web search services from their handset. | (Source: M:Metrics)

Further reading from the MEX archives

I hope you’ll join us at the MEX conference in London on 27th – 28th May 2008 to take part in the debate. Delegate places are priced at GBP 1499 and you can register on-line at

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