Google's Cell Phone Sex Problem

 
 
By Ben Charny  |  Posted 2006-04-24 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Some new research concludes that Google Internet search requests via cell phone are mostly to find porn, and at a rate twice what Google encounters from its regular wired Internet users.

Nearly one in five of Google wireless searches are for words associated with adult entertainment, according to a study (PDF) of a million Google mobile phone queries. The study was first published in February and will be presented April 26 at the CHI 2006 conference in Montreal.

The porn situation is actually a symptom of a larger issue threatening Google, and presumably any other Internet search engine accessible via a cell phone Internet connection.

As the Google data shows, after nearly a decade in the making, cell phone Internet search is still predominantly to find a finite set of words and topics.

That's not a lot of "search diversity," as the researchers call it, which one would expect to find in a healthy, growing wireless Internet search industry.

Indeed, the Google study found porn inquiries outnumbered the combined tally of the next four most popular Google mobile search topics.

Google researchers argue, among other things, the porn percentages and the narrow focus of searches are "the types of queries that are favored in the early stages of adoption of new technology mediums."

The researchers note the percentages of porn searches was once just as high on the wired Net, but dropped as that medium matured.

Taken in another light, the findings may also indicate there are still not a lot of Web sites out there suitable for cell phones.

But the explanation is tough to square with the last five years of increasingly-sophisticated mobile Web sites, and the sometimes runaway successes of other kinds of cell phone data consumption. Also, Internet seach from a cell phone isn't exactly 'new'. It was introduced nearly a decade ago.

The Google study also contains a number of other noteworth findings.

For instance, an "astounding" number of users of Google's search engine, about one in five, were searching for Web addresses, such as /.

That suggests people may be trying to use the Google search engine as they would a Web browser.

Also, the number of characters and words used in a typical Google cell phone search query is nearly the same as from personal computers or personal digital assistants.

That's equally as astounding given the amount of effort it takes to use a cell phone's 12 keys versus a full-size QWERTY keyboard. Google researchers found it took cell phone users about one minute, on average, to enter a search term and get results.

 
 
 
 
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