Research Shows Only 20% Take-up for Mobile Search

Research released by the Mobile Entertainment Forum (MEF) and Ovum suggests that only 20% of UK mobile subscribers search for content on the mobile Internet, despite an industry perception that the figure is 89%. The survey questioned MEF members, including operators, content providers and technology enablers to gauge industry views, as well as 1,000 UK consumers.
Despite the fact that subscribers dont search on the mobile Internet as often as the industry believes – only 2% search on a daily basis – those that do are downloading premium material, rather than just surfing. Among consumers using mobile search once a month or more, the most commonly searched-for content is ringtones (54%), closely followed by full track music downloads (47%), sports results and games.
Ringtones, music tracks and games all command a premium, and subscribers appear willing to pay for it only 17% of respondents were put off searching by cost. This is particularly important, with industry respondents citing increased downloads (50%) as the most important quantifier of successful search mechanisms, followed by return visits (31%). Interestingly, searching for mobile content isnt purely limited to the 18-35 year old demographic, with an average of 64% of those aged 35-64 searching for ringtones.
It is still early days for the mobile search industry and the primary barriers to uptake are cited by subscribers as not knowing how to use the search engine (23%) and not thinking about using mobile search on their phone (19%). More encouragingly, 98% of respondents said they know where to find the search engine on their phone, suggesting that the industry needs to promote the benefits of mobile search more actively, and that it needs to educate consumers on how to use it to find relevant content.
Effective mobile search is the lifeblood of the mobile entertainment industry says Claudia Poepperl, Head of the MEF initiative and Chief Marketing Officer at mobile search company MobilePeople. If consumers cant find relevant content, they cant use it. This research shows how crucial it is for the industry to actively promote mobile search to consumers to encourage further uptake of mobile entertainment. Putting the correct mobile search business models in place will boost download and usage rates and provide new revenue opportunities via advertising.
Eden Zoller, Principal Analyst at Ovums Consumer Practice adds:
It is still very early days for mobile search, but the difference highlighted in industry and consumer understanding of mobile search is very telling. Although there have already been many advances in mobile search technology, there is still a long way to go in making users understand why and how they can use it.
As part of its mobile search and discovery initiative, the MEF will be producing a full white paper on the research results for circulation to MEF members. The initiative was proposed by MobilePeople  and is being supported by FAST (Fast Search & Transfer) and Qpass (Amdocs Digital Commerce Division). The initiative is supported by Ovum as the external research partner.