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'Little joy' in today's mobile search

Mobile search remains in its infancy leaving most people disappointed with user interface and accurate results, notes Ovum report.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor on

The current search experience for mobile users is still very much in its infancy and leaves most "disappointed" in terms of interface and accurate results, according to a report released Wednesday.

Research firm Ovum said consumers have enjoyed a rapid evolution of mobile devices and networks in recent years and expect to see mobile search develop at a similar pace, providing slick interfaces and accurate results. Consumers and business users are also demanding more mobile apps, services and content, and want mobile search to support better access to relevant information.

However, in most cases, "they would be disappointed".

London-based Sarah Burnett, senior analyst with Ovum, explained in the report: "Unfortunately, there is little 'joy of use' in the current mobile search user experience."

While Internet search has evolved significantly, including increasing focus and developments in contextual search, the same cannot be said for mobile search.

In fact, Ovum said this space remains in its infancy and the typical user experience "leaves much to be desired".

Users interact differently with their mobile devices, and do not get the same experience searching on a mobile phone as they do a PC because they are constrained by the smaller screen, awkward keypads and limited on-screen navigation.

This, Burnett noted, is a significant factor vendors and content providers need to consider where navigating long lists of search results, for example, is not user-friendly to a mobile user.

Mark Blowers, Ovum's principal analyst, added: "Mobile search should deliver answers, not links."

It should also be more than just browsing. It must support the heightened need for accuracy and relevance, where a simple and user-friendly search interface is especially critical on a mobile platform. Ovum underscored the need to support better mobile search tools, such as those provided by Taptu, which only lists sites that are optimized for mobile viewing, or risk losing user eyeball.

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