Local Search

GoodRec Gets a Good Review

Just when you thought you’d seen all the local review sites you were going to see for awhile along comes GoodRec. The temptation might be to regard the site as a Yelp wannabe and quickly dismiss it. Not so fast.

There are some very interesting things going on here that make the site different:

  • A mobile-centric approach
  • Simplified recommendations (as opposed to lengthy narratives)
  • A broad, horizontal content strategy that extends to products

The rest of my discussion of the site is on Screenwerk.



Related: TechCrunch profiles some of the location-enabled social networks for the iPhone.

Some of the sites discussed by TechCrunch, including Loopt and Whrrl, may find audiences and sustain themselves. (There's not enough mobile advertising right now to realize the promise of LBS.) But to truly succeed, these sites have to do more than tell you who's nearby on top of a local database; they must provide real value.

This is not to say "game over" already, but it's pretty clear that Facebook and MySpace will dominate social networking on mobile phones -- or it's their market to lose I should say. 

iPhone App in Microsoft/Tellme's Future?

The dearth of speech-enabled applications in the iPhone App Store is self-evident. In a truly "open" process for mobile phone applications, a significant percentage would involve speech recognition or text to speech. But the iPhone is barely a phone. It is a mobile, communicating computer with an elegant user interface that presents a multiplicity of popular applications in response to touch (or MultiTouch). Nuance and Dial Directions have both demonstrated applications for the iPhone and now, according to a report in YahooNews, Tellme (now a subsidiary of Microsoft) is moving closer to introducing its own iPhone application.

Tellme's voice portal and Tellme's enhanced directory assistance are both available from any telephone, through 1-800-555-TELL and 1-800-CALL-411, respectively. To reach Tellme's enhanced local search on an iPhone users need only press the Tellme entry in the iPhone "Contact" list. One press, one utterance, and the job is done. That may explain Apple's reticence to add speech enabled services to the virtual shelves in the App Store.

Still, voice services are still destined to weigh heavily in the mix of smartphone and feature phone applications. As an alternative to traditional keypads and QWERTY keyboards, push-to-talk, spoken input is a marked improvement, especially in situations that are mandated to be hands-free (most commonly, while driving). Adoption of speech input has proven to be "success-driven", meaning that subscribers who have successfully used their voice to input commands and text are more likely to try again. In addition to Tellme, Nuance and Dial Directions, V-Enable has created a set of local search services that a number of wireless subscribers are using their voice to invoke.

Empirical evidence is that they use the mode of communications that makes the most sense "in context". Thus far, the iPhone "context" remains devoid of push-to-talk and speech-enabled applications.

Mobile Payments Make a Leap Forward in the US

Mobile payments are well established in Asia and in many places in Europe, however there's been relatively little action in the US market until (perhaps) now. Just this week both Sprint and Visa (with Google and Nokia) announced mobile banking and payments initiatives.

Sprint has launched "MyMoneyManager," a mobile client application that provides access to a range of banks and financial services including Citibank and mobile PayPal. It works on selected handsets. 

At the same time, Visa and Google announced a more elaborate set of mobile initiatives. (Visa is also working with Nokia and Apple but launching a pilot first with Android.) One service will enable people, using a mobile browser, to transfer money between Visa holder accounts.

The Visa-Android partnership involves money transfers and alerts and notifications of financial transactions; but it also has an ad or promotions component as well. Users can get offers or deals from merchants, which may then be plotted or viewed on the built-in Google map. 

As mentioned, Visa will bring this to the iPhone but it started with Andriod because of its open marketplace, which would seem to be a validation of that strategy for Google.

Vindigo's Closure Marks End of an Era

Those of us who remember using the first “connected Palm” device (the Palm V) have a little something to mourn as we learned that For-Side.com has shut down operations at Vindigo. A report out of New York indicated that more than 30 employees in New York City are immediately affected, but Jason DeVitt (who founded Vindigo in 1999) notes in his blog that he recognized that For-Side.com had placed his company on the wrong track when he made his exit back in 2005. At the time, he had built Vindigo to a $10 million top line while sister company Zingy had grown its revenues to $50 million.

The vision was to merge Zingy and Vindigo, grow it to a six-digit top line and take the company public, riding on the wave of popularity for local and personalized mobile content. Indeed, even today visitors to the Vindigo Web site will find it offering subscribers wireless access to real-time restaurant & movie listings (including reviews and ratings from trusted content providers), shopping and nightlife listings, door-to-door directions and maps and listings of locations for “essentials” like police stations, pharmacies, ATMs and public restrooms.

Yet the ensuing four years witnessed a revolving door in the executive suite and general failure to capitalize on its “first mover” advantage while new participants entered the marketplace with mobile flavors of search engine resiults, Yellow Pages, directory listings, coupons and the like.

But all might not be lost. A couple of comments on Jason DeVitt’s blog reflect continued interest in the Vindigo brand (as an asset for acquisition) as well as the mix of services that Vindigo had aggregated. With iPhone’s AppStore and Android’s “open” application development process constantly evolving, it would not be surprising to see Vindigo or a Vindigo clone re-appear for the iPhone, G1 or one of its peers.

Reports and Predictions: Handset Growth Steady, Mobile Ads Uncertain

There's an interesting paradox in mobile. On the one hand we have firms such as Portio Research forecasting continued "robust" handset growth amid the global economic downturn. According to Cellular-News:

A new report from Portio Research reveals that over half the world now uses a mobile phone and predicts that 80% of the world’s population will be doing so by the end of 2013 - a staggering 5.8 billion people.

But then there's this bit about declining ARPU:

Meanwhile despite rising worldwide mobile voice and data revenues Mobile ARPU continues to decline and is predicted to fall from USD 23.2 in 2005 to USD 15.8 by the end of 2013, largely because additional subscriber growth is likely to come from low per capita income markets.

Separately, others are predicting that nascent mobile advertising growth is likely to suffer in an uncertain economic climate. Despite billions of users and growth in mobile data/text and Internet access, some are predicting that the growth in mobile ads will slow because of the "unproven" nature of mobile advertising. Adify's Russ Fradin is quoted in a BusinessWeek article along those lines:

When budgets are tight, advertisers tend to look for proven methods, such as ads placed alongside a Google or Yahoo search, and place less emphasis on experimental venues, such as social networks, experts say. "Mobile and social networks will be hit," Fradin says.

Mobile advertising's development is inevitable. The question is how quickly and in what precise segments of the market will revenues develop? Fradin's comment is correct; in a time of uncertainty there's retrenchment and conservatism among media buyers and planners. No one wants to take risks and lose his job over novel strategies, which may or may not perform as anticipated. 

But the numbers in mobile can't be ignored. It's just for the infrastructure to develop more fully and for agencies and marketers to become educated and comfortable with the medium. That's probably about a 2-3 year cycle. 

Yell Mobile Maps Gains LBS Award

UK directory publisher Yell's mobile maps application has won an award in London for ‘Best Location-Based Service’ at the Mobile Search Awards on Sept 16, 2008.

The application, which is quite a bit richer than the company's basic WAP search tool, is built by Local Matters' Copenhagen-based unit mobilePeople


Live from Mobilize

I moderated a panel on Location Based Services this morning at the GigaOM conference Mobilize in San Francisco. On the panel were Yahoo, XOHM, Google, Skyhook Wireless, JumpTap. We discussed the full range of subjects here but far from exhaustively. The takeaways were the following:

  • The technology infrastructure to support location is here; it's getting better
  • People are increasingly adopting location-based applications and using them with frequency (Google has seen 2x usage of Maps for Mobile since adding My Location)
  • JumpTap said that 25% of the search traffic they're seeing is local
  • However, the advertising inventory to monetize this growing category is still very far away

The audience is mostly tech companies and funders. Most of the panels at the show have been about product development, user experience and technology. There were some discussions here and there about advertising and revenue models but that has mostly been at the margins of the show.

Google's Rich Miner keynoted the afternoon session. Miner provided some good historical perspective about the mobile and carrier ecosystem. In particular he was critical of his early experiences with Windows Mobile at France Telecom. He lamented the absence of open standards and the challenges of doing software development for mobile in the past. Fast forward, Miner celebrated some of the recent developments toward greater openness at Verizon, AT&T and elsewhere in the indutry. 

He made a range of fairly "generic" comments about Android. The first handset is expected next week. However, Miner didn't discuss that or preview the announcement in any way. He also didn't take any audience questions, perhaps becaue he knew they'd all be about the launch next week. Accordingly the speech felt somewhat truncated. 

A mobile "guru" panel featuring Yahoo, Sprint, Zumobi and Motorola was an interesting exercise in future speculation. Generally the panelists were quite thoughtful. My favorite part was a sci-fi-like discussion of "augmented reality" (projection of images, labels, etc. onto the real world via mobile accessories).

There was also an interesting panel about mobile social networking featuring Loopt, Hi5, Facebook and MySpace. There were few new insights here but some interesting discussion about user behavior, mobile video and its potential. The panelists said they're seeing growing adoption but they still haven't figured out what the right revenue model is. 

Most of the panels I attended featured the obligatory hommages to the iPhone. Indeed, perhaps the most interesting coversation of the day for me was with an Apple executive at lunch who'd slipped into the event but wasn't speaking at the conference. He was eager to see what the Android experience would be like -- as we all are. 


Skyhook Tracking Location-Based iPhone Apps

Skyhook Wireless, which provides location awareness technology (GPS, WiFi, cell tower) to the iPhone and other devices, is keeping track of the growth of location-based applications on the iPhone. Here are some charts the company sent me, reflecting the current state of things with location aware apps:






Looking at the Skyhook data it appears there are roughly 275 location-aware applications for the iPhone, with a slight majority on the paid side. We did a review of the location-aware apps when the iPhone Apps Store first launched in July. At the time there were about 55 by our count. 

Earlier in the week, Centrix (based in Canada) introduced software, NetworkLocation, for the Mac. It uses Shyhook's WiFi positioning capabilities to automatically adjust network settings based on location:

NetworkLocation allows users to customize their Mac OS X settings, such as launching an iTunes playlist, enabling Airport, or iChat message status based on location . . . "We developed NetworkLocation to address an annoyance we all come across to varying degrees – the tedious routine of getting our laptops into a comfortable and productive state,” said Richard Fillion, co-founder of Centrix.ca. "Everywhere we go, we want our computers to behave a certain way - from lowering the volume at the library, to changing the default printer or mail server. With NetworkLocation, it just happens.”

Centrix.ca has integrated WPS from Skyhook Wireless to determine user location. "With Skyhook, NetworkLocation can position a user automatically indoors, where people use their Macbooks most,” said Kate Imbach, director of developer relations at Skyhook Wireless. "Network Location shows how location-aware software can optimize user experience based on environment-specific requirements.”

Once any software determining location is on the desktop, both content and advertising can be automatically targeted to users in a more geographically specific way. Google, for example, is integrating location (its cell-tower database) into its Chrome browser, which will eventually enabled AdWords campaigns that offer much more geographic precision.

Google Upgrades My Location, Adds StreetView to Mobile

Google has just added its StreetView imagery (and walking directions) to the Google Maps for Mobile application. They're available on all color BlackBerry devices and most Java phones. After downloading the new version of Maps for Mobile, StreetView appears as a menu option on the business data/profile window:


It can also be expanded to full screen and manipulated (pan, etc.) just as on the desktop:

SV expanded

Last week Google also made its My Location (trianglulation) capability more precise by updating its database of cell-tower locations. 

StreetView is also going to be available via Android phones. The first one is scheduled to be announced next week from T-Mobile.

Mobile Search on the Rise

The M:Metrics unit of comScore reported yesterday that mobile search was growing in the US and Western Europe. The measurement firm found that mobile search penetration in the UK and US markets was greatest, at 9.5% and 9.2%  of mobile users respectively. However, in terms of real numbers, the US has a much larger number of mobile search users as the UK -- simply because of the population of mobile subscribers (74 million vs. 250 million).

It's not clear whether SMS-based search is included in the figures below (don't believe so). Let's assume this is all measured through a browser search box. Here are the comScore figures:

Mobile search usage

 Mobile search market share

There are other numbers in the market (we have some), which I've gone into a bit in a post at Search Engine Land discussing these comScore data. Not part of the release yesterday, here are comScore US data showing sought after content categories in SMS activity:

comScore US SMS activity
I'm always mystified that weather is such a big category in these data.

Dial Directions, Tellme Offer Voice for Dash

This past week both Dial Directions and Tellme announced speech for Dash mobile devices. Here's how it works: Users register their cellphones and then the system recognizes that they have a Dash device when they call. Dial Directions users call 1-DIRECTIONS (1-347-328-4667) and identify an address or intersection they're going to. The spoken destination is sent from the cellphone instantaneously to the Dash Express and consumers can use the device's routing. Here's a video demo.

In a similar scenario, Tellme also allows users to call its phone number (1-800-555-Tell) and ask for a specific business listing or conduct a category search (e.g., sushi, San Francisco). Once the desired result is obtained it similarly goes automatically to the Dash device for routing, etc. The search results in this case come Microsoft Live Search. 

While the Tellme capabilities extend beyond directions to business search, both integrations illustrate a fascinating trend toward connected devices. The idea here is that the phone is tied to the PND, which may in turn be tied to the PC (as in Send2Dash). This is part of the broader movement toward "the cloud."

Users increasingly want access to "their content" wherever that may be -- on the desktop, on their phones and in the car. Rather than seeing these services as independent silos, they become just input and output locations or modalities depending on where the user is and the circumstances (driving, walking, etc.). This is a vision that Tellme has been nurturing for some time. 

Google Integrates 'My Location' into Mobile Search

Last November, Google Maps for Mobile (a downloadable client) began to offer My Location, which uses cell-tower triangulation to locate the phone within approximately 200 meters. (Google recently added voice search capability to the BlackBerry version of the Maps client.)

Yesterday Google integrated that same cell-tower triangulation capability into Search for Mobile on Windows Mobile phones. Users must download a mobile version of Google Gears before they can use Search with My Location, but once they do, location is always on -- so to speak. It eliminates the need to enter a geographic modifier in the search query to get a local result.

Here's what the browser homepage looks like with My Location enabled:

Search with my location

 Here's what a search result for Sushi looks like (a kind of mobile "Universal Search" result):

My Location 2















The pull-down menu allows users to change and manage location.Alternatively one can see only local results by clicking the Local links. 

Search with My Location does one of two things:

  1. It makes My Location potentially available to a much larger audience
  2. It sets up better search ad targeting on mobile devices

The only thing Search with My Location doesn't do that Google Maps for Mobile with My Location does is locate you on a map.

I've got a somewhat longer post on it at Search Engine Land.


Related: Google also introduced an improved search for BlackBerry.

Quattro in Ads Deal with uLocate for Location-Targeted Ads on iPhone

Mobile ad network Quattro Wireless announced a new ads deal with uLocate's Where iPhone application. According to the press release out this morning:

WHERE, one of the most popular location-based applications in Apple's iPhone App Store, will utilize Quattro's dynamic ad serving platform to enable highly targeted in-application ads to be served to iPhone users based on contextual, demographic, behavioral and location information. WHERE's location-based service will be added to Quattro's industry leading Video, Call, In-Application, iTunes and Popover iPhone ad units. Under the deal, ad inventory for the WHERE application on the iPhone is available exclusively through the Quattro In-App Network and for Quattro's flagship advertisers such as Toyota, Herbal Essences, Sony, Comcast and LionsGate.

While uLocate/Where has some of its own brand advertiser relationships, it appears that Quattro will be "repping" all the Where.com ad inventory on the iPhone. It also appears that this is a brand LBS play. As with the Internet, most small business advertisers will gain mobile distribution through existing "aggregator" relationships  (e.g., yellow pages).

ClickZ offers some additional detail in a piece out today

Dial Directions First to Launch Voice for the iPhone

Beating out a host of other, larger companies working on speech for the iPhone, startup Dial Directions has introduced "Say Where," a speech application for local business search, reviews and maps & directions. Using the Safari browser it can tap into sites like MapQuest, Google Maps, YellowPages.com, Yelp and so on.

Arguably the greatest weakness of the iPhone is the keyboard, which takes considerable "getting used to." Say Where by-passes the keyboard entirely. Here's a video demo of the application in action.

Dial Directions began as a way to speak locations into any handset and get SMS based directions back. However what the company has really built is an impressive speech platform that transcends maps & directions. That's what the new Say Where application showcases -- the broader speech capability of the company's platform. 

The application officially launches today at the DEMO conference in San Diego, California. 


Yahoo! oneSearch Gets Boost As 'On Deck' Search Provider for AT&T

Yahoo! and AT&T have launched the former's oneSearch as the default search engine on the carrier's handset deck. This puts Yahoo!'s search and brand in front of a potential 70 million mobile AT&T users. The deal was announced earlier in the year and is part of the broader, long-term relationship between the companies.

Under the terms of the relationship:

Yahoo! oneSearch will provide customers who search AT&T MEdia Net with access to news, financial information, weather conditions, Flickr(TM) photos and Web images, as well as Web and mobile web sites. Yahoo! oneSearch will also display relevant ringtones, wallpaper, games and other content available in the AT&T MEdia Mall within search results, eliminating the need for customers to search within a separate window for downloadable content. AT&T's YELLOWPAGES.COM will provide local search information to customers as part of the agreement.

Note that YellowPages.com will be providing the local results. It's not clear how those will be presented (probably as a layer.) As a general matter, however, YellowPages.com's results aren't as rich or complete as Yahoo!'s. For example, the reviews coverage is much more limited. It's also not clear whether events (part of YellowPages.com's mobile iPhone app [from Zvents]) will be there as well. I'm guessing they won't. 

The companies announced that mobile search advertising will be provided by Yahoo! as part of the deal. The exception to the above is the iPhone, where there is no "carrier deck." Service on the iPhone is provided by AT&T. 

The formal launch of this deal could provide a big boost to Yahoo!, which trails Google in mobile search market share in the US. According to Nielsen Mobile (6/08), US mobile search market share breaks down as follows: 

  • Google: 62%
  • Yahoo!: 21%
  • Microsoft: 9% 

LMS found the following market share in a recent North American mobile user survey (8/08, n=789):

  • Google: 55%
  • Yahoo!: 16%
  • Microsoft: 13% 
  • Carrier's Search Engine: 9%
  • AOL: 6% 

Yahoo! has 60 carrier relationships globally, which the company says make a potential market of 800 million users around the world. Google has been in talks with Verizon to become its default search provider.

Currently AT&T is the largest US carrier, but Verizon will surpass it if its acquisition of Alltel is approved by regulators.


Related: Alltel has a deal with ChaCha, which may or may not be affected or expand to Verizon when the Alltel transaction closes. 



Yelp 2.0 for the iPhone Coming Soon

Right now Yelp is number 93 among the top 100 free iPhone apps. I received an email over the weekend from CEO Jeremy Stoppelman about some upgrades and feature additions to the Yelp app (version 2.0). These features aren't live yet but Stoppelman expects the upgraded app to become available (after Apple approval) at some point next week. Here's the list:

  • Map now links to Google Maps for quick directions, zooming, etc.
  • Complete attributes about each business now included (good for groups, reservations accepted, etc).
  • More photos Link to official business website (opens Safari)
  • Business Hours

Stoppelman said in the email, "My favorite new feature is the 'Hot on Yelp Nearby,' which tells you the most noteworthy businesses near your current location."

Here are some screenshots of Yelp 2.0 for the iPhone: 

Yelp 2.0 for the iPhone 1

Yelp 2.0 for the iPhone 2


Related: The New York Times has a roundup of travel-related applications for the iPhone.

Qpons (SMS Alerts) for Small Businesses

There are a range of companies seeking to bring mobile marketing to the masses of US small businesses. But, in a way, it's as if the mobile publishers and platforms have to re-learn the difficult lessons of conventional Internet marketing: it's expensive, frustrating and difficult to acquire small business advertisers -- especially with a self-service platform. 

NearU is seeking to do just that with a new self-service SMS marketing program it calls Qpons. In our as yet unpublished research on small business online marketing we found the following regarding attitudes toward mobile marketing: 

SMBs and mobile marketing

Source: /AllBusiness.com (8/08); caution: preliminary result

Of Touch Screen Kiosks and Mobile Tablets

My family and I recently took a trip to visit friends who live on Lopez Island, north of Seattle. We also spent a couple of nights in Seattle at the Sheraton downtown. There I got my first hands-on look at Microsoft's Surface

There were three Surface tables in the lobby of the hotel. Most of the time they were in use; people were clearly intrigued by the technology and experience. While the experience is novel and "cool," the content is thin at the moment, and mostly a promotion for Sheraton. The local search capabilities are limited. (It made me wonder if the listings were ad placements.) But that's not the point; the content will improve over time. 

I've always been intrigued by the notion of Internet kiosks distributed throughout town, which can offer some version of Internet access. Surface provides a compelling model for that potential experience. The question is: Where would such Kiosks be placed? Public transportation stops (e.g., subway stations in New York) is a logical choice. Then there are Starbucks of course. I also suggested to one Internet company in the past that ATM machines be used, although that would create longer wait times.

In 2006 UK directory publisher Yell, as part of an ad campaign, offered touch screen, local search kiosks in 20 locations in the UK. Yahoo before that set up a few interactive kiosks in New York and San Francisco to promote its then novel interactive mapping site. 


The fundamental reason kiosks are interesting to me is because they offer the potential for a richer Internet experience on the go. Even the iPhone, for all its impressiveness, is still small and less desirable than a larger screen. And the majority of people aren't going to carry around their laptops. 

I've also long been fascinated by the potential development of portable Internet devices that are neither conventional laptops nor cellphones. I think they're inevitable (the Kindle points the way). Yet, not even the new so-called "netbooks" really fit the bill (they're for business users and students). That's why TechCrunch's  audacious bid to build a cheap tablet computer is so intriguing. I hope they're able to succeed.

Initiatives such as Sprint's XOHM and others that will follow in its wake are likely to create near ubiquitous connectivity in several years in major US metropolitan areas. Europe will equally be blanketed with coverage. This permits the emergence of a new generation of touch-screen devices that offer larger screens -- to provide more complete Internet experiences -- but that are smaller than a laptop (or netbook).

Android Developer Challenge Winners Announced: Lots of Local There

Google announced the winners of its Android Developer Challenge contest. There were two categories: $275K and $100K winners. And 50 finalists were competing for the prizes. Twenty developers are dividing the cash awarded.

Among the 10 companies awarded $275K, six have location as a core or significant element. Only one of the $100K winners falls into that category. Among the other announced finalists, 14 out of 30 feature location or have location as a core element. When the iPhone Apps Store initially launched in late July, we surveyed the location-based applications (.pdf file).

Developer challenge apps

Among the more intriguing location-based Anrdoid applications are two that allow users to scan product barcodes in local stores and do price comparisons, as well as determine other stores that may have the product nearby. GoCart and Compare Everywhere offer these capabilities. 

Here's the description of GoCart:

GoCart informs the shopper. It bridges the gap that exists between shopping online and shopping at the store. GoCart is your shopping cart on-the-go. Users can scan the barcode of any product using their phone’s built-in camera. Once scanned, it will search for all the best prices on the internet and through the inventories of nearby, local stores.

Slifter offers local story inventory information in mobile (WAP, apps), as does TheFind's application for the iPhone. In addition, there have been camera-phone-based search tools before, but nobody has elegantly put it all together in the way suggested by these new Android apps. 

Among all the forthcoming iPhone clones with apps stores, etc., software applications will be a critical success factor in the market. For example, without much software to accompany it, Sprint's Instinct looks like a pale imitation of the iPhone.

Given that Android phones still aren't commercially available yet we can tell how these apps will actually perform. But they certainly look and sound good. And if the actual hardware works as promised, Google/Android will have a probable hit on its hands.


Apparently the HTC "Dream" (Android) from T-Mobile is coming quite soon. Engadget has images

HTC Dream

Mobile Search Frequency Numbers

Peggy Salz is reporting, based on several mobile search vendor interviews (in this case JumpTap), that average search numbers per month have increased -- at least in the case of one of JumpTap's customers -- from 7.3 per month in January of 2007 to 11 per month in May of 2008.

The numbers in terms of search volumes, however, are all over the map. Nielsen Mobile previously reported an average of 9 searches per month for Google mobile users and 6.7 for users of Yahoo oneSearch.

We've just pulled consumer data from the market that shows surprisingly frequent mobile search behavior (from a subset of a larger sample, not necessarily representative of the mobile market as a whole). In our survey the average number of searchers among mobile search engine users -- a subset of overall mobile subscribers -- was 11 per week (per week)! I'm cautious about generalizing, but it's likely a leading indicator of where the market is headed in the near term regarding frequency and volumes.

Voice search companies such as ChaCha and Tellme (Microsoft) are seeing higher than industry average search volumes as well based on their voice interfaces and the reduction in "friction" in those contexts. Tellme told me the other day that 70% of its search queries are via the voice interface vs. its text box. V-Enable has varying numbers comparing voice query volumes to keyboard entry, based on phone type.

One of the leading mobile portals told me informally months ago that among some power users the company was seeing as many as 9 searchers per day. And ChaCha reports more than 30 per month on average. So there are a range of variables and experiences here that make generalizing difficult. 

But what these various numbers indicate is that mobile search -- which comprises a range of utilities and applications (411, SMS, WAP, apps) -- are growing perhaps faster than expected.