The Sunday Telegraph published a story stating that a group of some of the globes largest cellular operators are banding together to create a mobile phone search engine. It would appear the mobile operators have finally decided that they no longer like the idea of sharing their booty with the search engines. So
So what’s the big deal?
Well apparently mobile search is going to be big, very big. And the top cellular operators want to make sure that they get their slice of the cake. This to me sounds like more of the ‘walled garden’ school of thinking, which in my view is absolutely the wrong direction. I don’t think consumers want to be limited when it comes to Internet use. I think they want technology that enables them to access all the cool services they use daily on their PCs and laptops.
Unfortunately the mobile operators have never been overly interested in what the consumer wants. They care about one thing and one thing only – revenue. And consumers, by their nature, tend to act in ways that are not always compatible with the revenue generating desires of the operators.
At best this is short-termism
Obviously I’m into search. And I do think that mobile is the next frontier that will catapult search, and the Internet in general, forward. But to be frank, the mobile operators are always going to be fighting from a defensive position. They don’t want us to access data on our own terms because they think they could make more money by accessing it on theirs. And therein lies the Achilles heal. Sooner or later the operators wont be able to defend their position and the flood gates will open.
But could they replicate Google?
I think you only have to read through Bill Slawski’s blog to see that the major search engines have been patenting their IP like no one’s business these last few years. The operators will likely pour a couple of hundred million into something which will fail after a year or two. The Telegraph article speculates that this might be posturing, and the operators may negotiate a deal for a larger revenue share with the major search engines.
Part of me hopes this is the case, that we wont have higher walls in the garden, but a bigger part of me hopes they try to build their own search engine and fail miserably.
As an aside, I’ve always wondered does anyone actually like the mobile operators?