US Local Mobile Search On the Up, says comScore

New figures from comScore reveal that the number of people in the US who sought local information on a mobile device grew 51% between March 2008 and March 2009. comScore defines local information as searching for information on maps, movies, business directories or restaurants.
The mobile browser is the leading access method for seeking local information, with 20.7 million users in March 2009, up 34% versus a year ago. The strongest growth in the category, however, is coming from downloaded applications, which grew 83% year on year, followed by SMS at 72%. Despite the attention mobile applications have received from developers, carriers and device OEMs, however, they remain the least mode of accessing local information via mobile, with 11.3 million users in March. A marginally more often used channel for obtaining local information is SMS, with 11.7 million users, and an impressive. Overwhelmingly, though, the preferred mode to access local content remains the mobile browser.
Among the various local content categories, the number of people accessing online directories has seen the greatest increase during the past year (73%), followed by restaurants (70%), maps (63%) and movies (60%).
Given the explosion in application stores and associated marketing efforts, along with the growth in mobile phones using faster data networks, it would not be surprising within the next six months to see the number of people using downloadable applications surpass SMS for the accessing of local information via mobile devices, says comScore Senior Vice President, Serge Matta.
Across the board, local search-focused Internet brands have been developing mobile content at a feverish pace, says comScore. AT&T Interactive, for example, has made a significant effort to expand its online experience across several mobile platforms.
Were focused on extending the experience to mobile through our popular downloadable apps, SMS search, and mobile web apps, says AT&T Interactive CMO, Matt Crowley. In addition, we power local search for AT&Ts MEdiaNet portal and have our mobile client preinstalled on capable AT&T Smartphones and feature phones. As a result of this strategy, weve seen our reach extended by 6% for our combined online and mobile unique web visitor audience.