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Google reigns over mobile search: comScore research

Search giant Google Inc. is leading the mobile bandwagon as the preferred brand for browser-based searches.

This was a key finding of a study done by comScore M:Metrics, which found that Google has 60 percent share of mobile searchers in all countries worldwide.

"Google's lead in mobile search is sort of like a halo effect to Google's success online," said Jaimee Steele, director of corporate communications at comScore M:Metrics.

According to the study, Yahoo ranks second in Germany, Italy, Britain and the United States.

In the U.S., Yahoo's mobile search penetration is 34.6 percent, more than double its share in most other countries.

The report found that overall, mobile search is gaining in both popularity and frequency of use in the U.S. and Western Europe.

comScore M:Metrics reports that in June 2008, 20.8 million U.S. mobile subscribers and 4.5 million European mobile phone subscribers accessed search during the month. This is an increase of 68 and 38 percent from June 2007, respectively.

Britain had the highest penetration of mobile subscribers using search at 9.5 percent, followed closely by the U.S. at 9.2 percent.

Italy came in third place with 6 percent.

The number of U.S. users accessing mobile search has more than doubled (from 4,990 to 10,177 in one year) as a result of expanded 3G penetration and smart phone adoption.

Additionally, the proliferation of flat-rate data plans has also had its affect on mobile search adoption.

Another reason why mobile search usage is growing is because the industry has seen a substantial improvement to the mobile search offerings, especially in the U.S. market.

As the industry sees the number of mobile search users' increase, the frequency of activity also goes up.

Google and Verizon Wireless are said to be nearing a deal that would add the Internet giant's search interface to the carrier's mobile devices, thus opening up the mobile marketing space.

The agreement, while it has not been finalized, is said to be far-reaching and would include a revenue-sharing arrangement. Analysts are speculating that this could jump-start the stagnant mobile search industry and also benefit mobile marketers (see story).

A Google-Verizon Wireless partnership could create a one-stop shop for consumers wanting to find Internet sites, ringtones or entertainment such as music and video.

For users this would mean an improvement in the value of their off-deck experience.

"In terms of the study, there were no major surprises in the findings," Ms. Steele said. "However, the year over year growth rate was amazing.

"People are using their mobile phones more and more in a PC-like manner," she said. "This is because of the recent uptake in usage of smart phones. Search is people's gateway to the mobile Web.

"The search market is a gateway to getting mobile content out there. The increase in usage shows there is a great opportunity for content providers and advertisers alike."