Google has a long way to go before its Android platform even catches a whiff of Microsoft’s Windows Mobile operating system share. However, there are other ways to make Google search and applications more ubiquitous at Microsoft’s expense.
Just weeks after rolling out a software plug-in to speed Google search on Nokia’s Symbian-based N series or E series, the search giant has created a similar module for Windows Mobile devices.
The tool, which Google calls a “shortcut,” is a tab on a mobile device screen that brings users straight to Google’s search box, rather than requiring the user to open a Web browser and navigate to Google.com to make a search query.
These utilities are having profound effects on Google’s mobile search queries, Robert Hamilton, a product manager on Google’s mobile team, said in a blog post.
“When we look at the combined usage numbers for BlackBerry and Symbian versions of this plug-in, we see that users are able to get Google search results up to 40 percent faster,” Hamilton said. “And BlackBerry and Symbian users with the plug-in installed search 20 percent more than those without it.”
Hamilton added that Google saw similar improvements after updating its interface for Gmail on the iPhone at MacWorld earlier in 2008.
He said iPhone users tried the new interface but didn’t stick around. When Google improved the speed of the product, Gmail page views on the iPhone rose.
Windows Mobile users can download the free plug-in by going to mobile.google.com on a mobile device to download the plug-in.
The shortcut feature may seem like a small tweak in the short term, but could turn out to be a considerable coup for Google over time.
Google has put great distance between itself and the competition in desktop search and online advertising, one of the key reasons Microsoft covets Yahoo. If Microsoft grabs Yahoo, it will close the gap with Google in desktop search and ads and may actually gain an advantage over Google, thanks to Yahoo’s strong mobile presence.
Google’s mobile shortcuts can ensure that users are searching and clicking on Google-supported ads from any mobile device, fortifying Google’s multibillion-dollar online ad coffers, which collected more than $16 billion last year.
Google has made other moves to ensure that it stays close to the mobile Web, including releasing its Android mobile operating system and striking a deal to integrate its search engine with Nokia’s own search application.