Mobile Is Where Google Instant’s Greatest Impact May Be Felt

Today was the “Google Instant” event. The product — real-time display of results tied to search query changes — has already been dissected and picked over by bloggers like a corn field ravaged by locusts. The mobile (and iPad) version of Instant will be out later this year — and it has the potential to more significantly benefit Google than its PC sibling. According to data released yesterday by Google the company has seen dramatic gains in browser-based mobile search:
  • Google mobile search traffic grew 50% in first half of 2010
  • Search queries coming from Android handsets has “tripled” in 2010
  • Mobile is growing eight times faster than the PC Web a decade ago
  • YouTube has 160 million mobile views per day
Despite all this growth search is not the “killer app” on mobile devices the way it is on PCs. Screen shot 2010-09-08 at 4.28.40 PM Microsoft previously reported that “60% of users want alternative to text-based query input in mobile search.” And Google’s Eric Schmidt said that 25% of Android-based searches in the US market are initiated by voice. These stats indicate that people struggle with text entry in the query box. That’s obviously not a new insight. Google Instant, which requires as few as a single letter to start generating results, could make text entry in the search box much less challenging and painful and thus increase usage and frequency of Google on smartphones. That would complement voice, apps and camera-based inputs and help cement Google’s position as a tool for mobile content discovery. I dont think that Google Instant can technically be made available on lower-end feature phones and other non-smartphones but the user experience on these devices would especially benefit from Instant. You can see a video demo of Instant for mobile (via Mashable) here.