I thought I would take this opportunity to discuss some of the mobile platforms that are available for users in Canada.
Although mobile search is not main stream yet, I think this is definitely one mode of search that has potential to expand and will become important for any local businesses to ensure they have placement within these mediums. There are 2 major barriers that I see to the mass adoption of mobile search in Canada:
1) Cell Phone Data Plans – in Canada we are not in a fortunate position with our cell phone carries in terms of competition. Meaning that as of this blog posting there are no unlimited data plans available, like our US counterparts or in Asia. This is a major barrier to the adoption of local search, but as the cell carries start to open up their data streams, I see growth.
2) User Interfaces – if you have ever tried to use a cell phone to surf the web, you have probably been frustrated by the experience. Although the interfaces today are much better than previous – I would still say that there is a long way to go yet. As a side note, I have had the opportunity to view and play with the Apple iPhone – very nice.
On the user interface front, I wanted to share with you the local search interface from the Nokia Mobile Search Platform. Nokia has signed a number of deals with local providers around the world to include in this application – in Canada, Yellow Pages Group is the partner using data from yellowpages.ca.
The Yellowpages.ca local search plug-in enables you to find local businesses and services from your Nokia mobile phone. You can search by business name, business type, or location. As well as a company’s address and phone number, you can get useful additional information and detailed color maps showing you how to find them.
Another platform that is working checking is the Yahoo Canada Mobile Platform. If you visit their site and enter your cell phone number, it will text you a link to install the application. This platform consists of a lot of different features – of interest for local business is their local search platform – btw, the data for this platform is provided by yellowpages.ca as well.
Above are just two examples of good user interfaces that are taking the right steps to bring local mobile search into the mainstream. As I play with more, I will blog about them as well.