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MWC 2008: Google: 50x More Searches On iPhone

Rivals crushed into the ground as Google admits its as stunned as we are.

There are two news stories in one here, but we’ll deal with the headline grabber first…

Stunning us all this week are quotes from Google’s Mobile Operations Head Vic Gundotra, who told the Financial Times this week at the Mobile World Congress that Apple’s iPhone has made 50x more searches using its service than any other handset on the market.

“We thought it was a mistake and made our engineers check the logs again,” said Gundotra.

Of course putting these statements into some kind of context is vital. Firstly, I’m guessing we are talking 50x more ”proportionately” rather than 50x more in total given that Nokia sold 133.5m handsets last quarter to Apple’s 2.3m, though this can’t be taken as read. Secondly, Google is the default integrated search engine in the Mobile Safari browser and thirdly, Google has specifically customised its pages to be more intuitive for iPhone users with direct access to Gmail, Calendar, Reader, etc.

That said, the iPhone famously ”’isn’t”’ a 3G handset so it just goes to show that good software and intuitive controls coupled in no little amount by the compulsory flat rate data tariffs and heavy advertising ”can” get users online. Interestingly, this differs greatly from the approaches taken by rival mobile phone and smartphone manufacturers who tend to push the hardware first and the software second.

Now beneath this is a second equally interesting story and that is the insights Gundotra gives into Google’s mobile strategy:

“The world is changing,” he explained. “Users want an internet without fences. They know how to type in if they want to get to it. Two years ago the operators were still playing the role of gate-keepers but that is no longer the role for them.”

And while he may have been impressed with the iPhone, Gundotra showed the company isn’t prepared to play second fiddle to Apple’s handset: “We want every phone to be a Google phone. We are ultimately talking about thousands of devices. The best way to do this would be to get Google’s mobile operating system, Android, deployed on as many types of handsets as possible.”

The next two years are going to be defining years for the mobile industry. Hold on tight…

”’Note:”’ Good point made by reader Andy: could these figures also include the iPod touch since it uses the same version of Mobile Safari and could prove difficult to differentiate?

Sadly we don’t know, but what still holds up is that Apple has arguably created the first consumer friendly ultra portable Internet browsing mobile device(s) and – just as importantly – given others a path to follow.

Financial Times Story

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