By now almost everyone knows desktop search is losing share of audience like an aged rock star sees their fan base thin. Looking to mobile, what if this fast emerging world morphed into something far better than we've seen, even better than just mobility? What if mobile search led to something more intimate and far more fascinating?
A story the other day by a French social guru named Delphine Remy-Boutang revealed some late moves by Microsoft and Bing to extend what has already become a very image-centric campaign by MS Bing. We've all noticed the aesthetic Microsoft's search engine took to compete with the likes of Google. How many of us figured out early where this form of "object oriented" discovery business would end up though? For those of you interested, I have a few answers and a projection or two.
Search and Ye Shall Google (for now)
Search, the thing that has powered Google's mighty climb to massive profitability, it's actually been broken since forever. Back about 2007, the search engine giant was being forced competitively by a number of search innovations. Startups like Powerset, hakia, even Jimmy Wales' Wikipedia with Wikia Search, your "discovery tool" for web surfing saw a dramatic shift toward something called "semantic search" - in a refined form, artificial intelligence (AI) more or less.
Without a dissertation on indexing the web and algorithmic complexity, providing you and me with "answers" became paramount, at least ostensibly. Then almost suddenly, Google as a brand took over with only a peep from one competitor - Powerset became Bing, but the Google brand was just too entrenched.
Today ComScore reveals Google still holds a commanding lead where market share of search is concerned. With 66.7 percent share versus 18.1 for Bing and 11.2 for Yahoo!, if ever there were a monopoly on something we all use, Google search is it. In mobile search, the picture is far grimmer for Bing and other competitors. The figures from NetMarketShare (below) show Google with over 90 percent of tablet and mobile search.
With this in mind, imagine how complacent such a business as Google might become. I mean if the geeks at Google are like most geeks I know, such superiority just means time to have a tiki hut party. That's another startup story though, for anyone paying attention to the mobile space, what Microsoft is up to shows why being second best makes people try harder.
Stop the Presses! Who Uses Tablet Search Anyhow?
If you're like me, using Google, Safari, or whatever to search stuff on a Tablet is painstakingly aggravating. As for smart phones? Forget about it. So what is the whole "mobile" gig and the inherent experience of "stuff" in the world is about a more sociable discovery? What if the user or guest or consumer experience went farther, much farther?
Let's focus briefly on what makes mobile go around - or the all-pervasive app. An app for this, and app for that, Forbes Author Chester Ng, co-founder and CMO of SweetLabs, has some ideas, Micorsoft may well be intent on "forking" Google to its knees (remember this further down). A so-called Windroid move would erode Google's only chip in the mobile game at the moment, those Android App developers. For more on this read the VentureBeat MobileBeat piece here.
To more readily see what all this Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Apple movement leads to, let's take a look at the top things that make digital stuff popular. This Top 7 list from Forbes' contributor Jayson DeMers offers a few hints at mobile innovation tech for 2014. To grab market share via smart devices any player must:
- Understand and dominate content marketing
- Deal effectively with a more diverse social media ecosystem
- Take advantage of the fact "image-centric" content will rule from now on
- Adhere to the "less is more" principle (e.g., useless search and browsing will disappear)
- Create products or integrate products to be ideally mobile device friendly
- Develop effective ways to "retarget" mobile consumers
DeMers goes on to discuss SEO and other "desktop" dinosaur means of converting, but for the purposes of the future, SEO and other enate traditional channels will be surpassed very soon. Not rendered useless just yet, your desktop will eventually adapt as well - look for home devices that are mobile but hub-oriented. Think voice recognition, etc. Moving on, it's abundantly clear for me, Google is half a light year behind Bing in several categories above. Let's be straightforward here. Google made a market from several very distinct strategies which included creating a monetization community via Adsense and Adwords, providing "free" services to convert a user community, and as mobile commenced they copied Apple to grab an app-building community for Android.
Can you see the trend? Community first, right? Below, famous Paris photographer Serge Ramelli shoots high def imagery of Notre Dame for a tutorial of Microsoft tech for his community.
Photogenic - The Way Our Shared Experience Goes
Just how social all this social activity has become should be readily apparent. Socially engendered style will soon dominate all other means of communication by far. If you think I'm here just hyping this idea, then you're dead wrong. We're actually helping to make this happen, and in very social and interesting ways. The post you are reading is a component of a strategy I myself utilize, and for the sort of altruistic good Google once professed. The reader will denote a lot of positive energy devoted to Microsoft's Bing, a platform below called Photosynth, even their Nokia developments (if you search about the web).
I don't work for Microsoft, though I would entertain helping their competitiveness expand contractually, who wouldn't? The point for me now is, Google dominance has slowed the creative process tech people like me made a living writing about. Aren't you a bit sick of mediocre search, email, ugly "minimalist" design "meh" - and so forth? If Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird did not anger you, then certainly boredom has set in over Motorola motionlessness. But I digress here. What's the future of mobile, search, in motion commerce? Mr. Bing himself, Stefan Weitz, he said this yesterday when I asked him about using Photosynth to recreate or preview our world:
"The power of search cannot be fully realized by any one player. It truly takes a village to enable every square inch of the planet to be captured and made useful. Our vision is to give people tools to enjoy the real world in all it's beauty while helping others discover that which they might have never experienced."
Serge Ramelli, one of the most well thought of photographers and teachers of photography in the world, earlier this week he did a so-called "walk mode" through Paris famous Notre Dame at the behest of WHIP, Elegancia Hotels, and Stefan Weitz. Ramelli was briefed by Photosynth's director, David Gedye earlier on with regard to best practices. As you can see, the end result is not only stunning, but the tutorial accomplishes several social and marketing goals simultaneously. First and foremost Ramelli showed a whole community a simple "how to" create experience. Secondly, community is how innovation is automatically adopted by business.
Talking about this new Photosynth with Martin Heller, Contributing Editor at InfoWorld, photographer, software developer tech geek extraordinary is well known. Heller had this to say:
"The new Photosynth is significantly easier and more flexible for photographers capturing 3D 'scapes' that can be viewed interactively than previous technologies. With a little practice, and an understanding of the constraints, any good photographer can easily start creating Photosynth panoramas, spins, walls, and walks."
When Searching Apps, Icons, Images, and Ads
Ramelli's following on the web is quite extensive, to say noting of those subscribed via email. This tutorial using Photosynth went out to 17,000 photographers of every skill set were engaged, some 2500 or so viewed the tutorial within a couple of hours of it going live. What's significant here is how social interest sharing, even professionalism, renders ideas like Photosynth ultra powerful. Factor in other initiatives and innovations, and it's easy to predict an all out war in between mobile competitors this year. For Google, the announcement Best Western would pay for Google Street views inside those middle of the road hotels was significant.
Considering the growth of mobile advertising, recently ZenithOptimedia's New Media Forecasts shows growth of mobile technology in 31 countries across the world. This report details a steady smartphone penetration virtually guaranteeing mobile will outdo traditional revenue streams by 2016. Additionally, rising markets are outgrowing mature ones by a rate exceeding 6% faster (3% mature vs 9% per yr for rising).
Talking "new, new media" UGC is still the Holy Grail. Just as Serge Ramelli (below) could be a world renowned photographer, he might also be your average tourist - he even suggests so in this tutorial. This is significant for Google Street and other such "world revealing" technology is not generally created by tourists.
Smart Devices for Smart Users by Smart Companies
Finally, let's consider the nature of smart device use to come where "search" is concerned. What you have inside that special hand held device of yours is essentially a matrix of icons containing data. This is, breaking down the visual/user operands, so to speak. Apps are icons that contain function, data, and/or data. Now, the browser is effectively rendered useless by the depth of function of apps. In essence, the app icon becomes a searchable image anyhow. We used to call this object oriented search. Bing, any mobile search powered entity, simply has to incorporate this concept of icons (apps themselves) as THE searchable commodity. All anybody really searches for on their iPhone or Windows powered Nokia is the app - what that app contains.
This is where Microsoft exhibits their late smartness in all things mobile. The following news bits further amplify the trend.
- Bing gains market share snapping up 5 more percent
- First National Geographic is partnering with Microsoft Live Labs with Photosynth
- Photosynth for serious shutter bugs announced
- Nokia Limia 1020 - 41 mega-pixel smartphone gets pro boost
- Lumia apps mirror the MobileBeat Windroid story line
- Apple integrates Bing with Siri for die hard search fanatics
- Corollary developmental rumors of 3D UIs give rise to virtual everything at MS mobile
- Bing Maps goes 3D (imagine integrated Photosynth interiors)
- Bing engages hospitality and blog media via SnapTraveller event (hotels the focus)
- Latest Serge Ramelli Notre Dame and coming Felicien Hotel shoot
- Sony and Microsoft in talks on Windows Phones
The list of MS and Bing moves is a bit extensive. The point being here, the mobile/social space, not to mention the mobile ad revenue space, will be red, red hot this year. The technology, the tools, the community out there, and the need for a new wave of advertising creativity, all that's missing for someone to rule mobile is a cohesive community. Hey, almost everyone takes and shares pictures with their smart devices. Meanwhile, while all this was going on at Microsoft all Google could come up with was a deal to do Street view inside one of the world's least photogenic hotel chains, Best Western. The Tnooz article points to Google tasking the chain for what may be dubious results, all said and done. I spoke with one old friend Brian Solis just in time for this posting, I asked him to encapsulate Photosynth - future business possibility:
"The future of business lies in creating meaningful and shareable experience, before, during, and after transactions. Virtual immersion is a new and engaging paradigm to enchant customers...to make them part of the experience. This gives brands and any business really the opportunity to construct a thoughtful experience, to create a new world, and allow people to walk through it in their own way. This unlocks curiosity, promotes engagement, and fosters relationships. However, it is only as powerful as the architect of the experience can visualize and build. This is now an ongoing investment that not only establishes a competitive advantage but also a new way to touch customers throughout the lifecycle."
Why all the focus on Microsoft, Bing, and Photosynth? As I alluded to earlier, frankly Google is not doing so impressively for a world leader. Brian talking about the so-called "lifecycle" is aptly true here. Concerning what's competitive, my theory is; "Let's add pressure and see who offers the best social experience, the best products for all." As for competition and Google, Apple, Sony, whoever? " For the consumer Solis' lifecycle approach also indicates long term customer value... and ongoing to and fro conversation, as it were.
I say we supported Google to the lion's share with mediocre results, let's see what we get with Microsoft or a competitor." Hey, the only thing we have to lose is today, we will eventually gain tomorrow.
Let me know your thoughts.