America Online Inc. on Thursday released an updated version of its Internet search engine for cell phones.
Improvements are mainly to the Web browsing capabilities. Thanks to technology from Israel-based InfoGin Ltd., Web pages automatically adapt for viewing on the phones small screen.
The update is the latest attempt to jumpstart consumer interest in using cell phones to search the Internet. Yet this feature, for the umpteenth year in a row, is still part of a "next year" industry.
"Theres not a ton going on," said Don McGuire, chief marketing officer of Ampd Mobile, a cell phone operator targeting the lucrative teenage and young adult market. "Its not really a user friendly feature."
The problem is a confounding one. Americans are lapping up cell phone text messaging, photos and streaming video, which are all clones of features they spend lots of time doing on their home PCs.
Yet search—a major reason people use the Internet to begin with—has failed miserably to make the jump from big-to-small screen in the five years since the feature was first introduced.