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Now Google has its eyes on your mobile phone

Chris Jenkins | Sept. 15, 2008
Google also wants a world, or at least a worldwide web, that's compact enough to be searched comfortably from a mobile phone.

SYDNEY, 15 SEPTEMBER 2008 - Having tamed global search, the monolith has turned its attention to local solutions.

When Google Earth hit the world's computers a couple of years ago, its panoptic view of the planet encouraged people to think global.

Suddenly the world could be discovered on a laptop.

With a click, drag and a quick spin of the globe, you could be looking down on Berwick Street in Soho or Times Square in New York, even though you were stuck in the spare room next to the ironing.

But now Google, the gargantuan web search and software company which turned 10 this week, is looking to bring things a lot closer to home.

It may have just pulled the wraps off its new internet browser, dubbed Chrome, for PC users, but Google also wants a world, or at least a worldwide web, that's compact enough to be searched comfortably from a mobile phone.

An internet search engine may well be able help someone to read the news in Portuguese, from Angola. But if it can't find a pizza shop that's open in Summer Hill or an ATM in Prahran, then it's not nearly as useful while you are out and about.

"As we look forward to the next few years, I really see local will be one of the next big things in search," Google's California-based search evangelist Adam Lasnik says.

"One of the things that I have seen us doing better, even just in the two years that I have been here, is that when people search for the name of a shop, or a type of food, or a destination, we are able to get that information to them."

Not that Google is alone in trying to do this. In Australia, Telstra has for some time been trying to get its Sensis business to do something similar, with the help of resources like its White Pages and Yellow Pages directories and Trading Post classifieds business. Rupert Murdoch's News Limited is parlaying its network of local papers and classifieds into directory and search portal True Local.

According to chief executive of internet agency iProspect, David Holmes, the ever expanding amount of information on the web is making Google's job of delivering accurate search results, quickly, more difficult as time goes on.

"They do a really good job, but they are weighed down by the volume of that business," he says. Being such a general search portal leaves Google open to competition from more specialised players that can carve themselves out a living by searching a smaller, but well defined, portion of the web.


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