Local Mobile Search Ready to Roll?

Brian Wool’s local ClickZ column is about mobile search today:

Though more online advertising is moving to wireless devices, mobile local search is still in its infancy. But it is catching up rapidly in some business categories and will soon be an essential channel for merchants seeking to drive business from local search.

He’s correct that the pieces are falling into place. But the timeline is somewhat uncertain because there’s considerably more complexity involved in mainstreaming local mobile search vs. local search on the desktop. There are major consumer usability issues and even pricing issues to confront. Voice and FreeDA services (e.g., Jingle, Goog411) will partly form a bridge to the future that Wool points to.

There’s an irony here too. Local search has been hard to build on the “back end.” While there’s tremendous and growing consumer demand, the infrastructure and local search ecosystem has only recently solidified. That’s especially true for SMBs; the simplified SEM firms that now exist are the enabling layer that make local search marketing possible for the majority of local businesses that otherwise wouldn’t self-provision their advertising.

That “desktop” infrastructure will now enable accelerated movement into mobile. The local database and related content already substantially exists because of the desktop ecosystem. But SMBs will never touch anything mobile directly; it will all be done for them as an extension of Internet-based local search marketing.

I’ve argued in the past that there is “pent up” consumer demand for local content and services on mobile devices. The technology is actually behind consumer demand. In other words, if there were simple and affordable ways to access local content on mobile devices consumers would be doing it routinely and en masse. And they will be in the future.

The only question is: How far away is that future?

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Related: ZDNet reports on one (of two) recently published Google mobile patent application.

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