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The Importance of Discovery and Search in Mobile

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Smartphones and tablets are here to stay and there has even been recent discussion on how long before they will start replacing home and work desktops. As we become more dependent on our mobile devices for our connection to the internet, it becomes essential to understand how these devices are used for discovery and how search, a product of the desktop environment, will still have relevancy in this emerging location based world.

Mobile is discovery focused

Location is absolutely central to mobile and the concept of discovery is the standard for mobile users. We expect our smartphones to know where we are; who and what is near us; and to anticipate our needs, providing us that information as quickly as it’s bounced off a satellite and onto our device screens.  People are used to discovering items of interest through geotargeted ads in their favorite applications, like Pandora, and from friend recommendations on social media, like Twitter and Facebook. Culturally relevant boundaries or geofences – like neighborhood, college campus and shopping boundaries – are key to focusing mobile users’ discovery. The name of the game in mobile is, “I am here and let me discover who and what is around me now”.

Search and hyper-local search are still important

Since most people see their smartphones and tablets as an extension or replacement for their desktop, they still approach these devices with search in mind. People use their smartphones and tablets to search for information that is not related to a location or a specific time – for example to locate a phone number, find information on Wikipedia, and specific companies or online publications. Hyper-local search is essential for people looking for local companies and services, and also for those researching places they are planning to visit – be they at home or en route to the destination - to find places to stay, eat and to get a feel for that locale.

Discovery and hyper-local search will work together

As more mobile applications are developed that use both discovery and search, users will expect a continuity of data. If John has done a hyper-local search at home on restaurants in SoHo, he will expect to be served geotargeted ads for that restaurant or be alerted to which friends are in the neighborhood when he enters SoHo with his mobile phone. Quality and consistency of current geofences like neighborhoods and the availability of new culturally relevant geofences like shopping boundaries will enable hyper–local search and discovery to work effectively across mobile devices and those remaining desktops.