Mobile search is an evolving branch of information retrieval services that is centered around the convergence of mobile platforms and mobile phones and other mobile devices. Web search engine ability in a mobile form allows users to find mobile content on websites which are available to mobile devices on mobile networks. As this happens mobile content shows a media shift toward mobile multimedia. Simply put, mobile search is not just a spatial shift of PC web search to mobile equipment, but is witnessing more of treelike branching into specialized segments of mobile broadband and mobile content, both of which show a fast-paced evolution.
Mobile Search is important for the usability of mobile content for the same reasons as internet search engines became important to the usability of internet content. Early internet content was largely provided by portals such as Netscape. As the depth of available content grew, portals were unable to provide total coverage. As a result Internet web search engines such as Google and AltaVista proved popular as a way of allowing users to find the increasingly specialist content they were looking for. In a international journal article,’Exploring the logic of mobile search’, Westlund, Gómez-Barroso, Compañó, and Feijóo(2011) outline a through review of research on mobile search usage, and also present an in-depth study of user patterns. They conclude that mobile search has started to change mobile media consumption patters radically. they also emphasize that future developments of mobile search must be sensitive to the mobile logic.
Types of mobile search
Mobile optimized search engines — Most major search engines have implemented a mobile optimized version of their products that take into consideration bandwidth and form factor limitations of the mobile platform. Mobile question and answer services — These services allow a user to text a question to a central database and receive a reply using text. A usage example would be a user that wants to know the answer to a very specific question but is not in front of his/her computer. Most mobile ‘Q&A’ services are powered by human researchers and are therefore a type of organic search engine.
Mobile directory search: This service is known by different names dependent on country and operator. It can also be known as ‘Find My Nearest’ or ‘Mobile Yellow Pages’ services. The basics of the services allow users to find local services in the vicinity of their current location.
Mobile discovery services: These services offer users recommendations on what they should do next. An example would be recommending a user a similar ringtone to the one that s/he has just browsed for. They operate, in a mobile context, in a similar way to the recommendation engines provided by internet retail shops such as Amazon.com.
Mobile navigation services: These services provide the indexing structure to the portals provided by mobile operators. They index the content already on the operators’ portal but also provide users access to mobile specific content that is available outside the confines of the portal.
Dynamic Mobile Selection Interface Services: A new category of mobile search tool that is emerging is one in which a pre-selected set of possible search content is downloaded in advance by a mobile user and then allows for a final internet search step. An example of such search tools is the Worldport Navigator for the iPhone, which provides users with a push-button experience of selecting from thousands of human-screened and categorized Web selections in three or four seconds, without the need for text entry, search, result review, or page-scrolling.
*Contributed by Ahman Makams