Espoo (Finland) – Nokia has struck a deal with Microsoft to embed a mobile version of its Live Search into select Nokia phones. The service will allow users to search for specific items such as stock prices and loval movie show times from their cellphone.
Predominantly available for the Nokia N-series of multimedia smartphone handsets, Live Search will complement the existing Mobile Search platform that comes pre-installed on Nokia’s high-end phones. Live Search will also be available on select models on Nokia’s line of series 60 phones.
Next to Microsoft, several big name domains have rolled out scaled-down, mobile versions of their sites, including Google and Yahoo. Google was one of the early ones to automatically redirect cell phone users to the mobile version of their site. However, mobile content is still limited to a very basic Web search and image search. Yahoo and Google recently expanded the service with local search, which gives users the ability to find addresses of local businesses and stores. Google also offers a mobile version of Google Maps.
However, neither Google nor Yahoo offers the specific searches that the mobile version of Live Search will have, such as one-click searches of stocks and local movie times. There are more sophisticated applications for smartphones, like PocketStocks, that give users these abilities at the push of a button, but they aren’t free.
The question that remains is exactly how pertinent these features are to the average cell phone owner. According to a study by Ipsos Insight, only 28% of mobile phone users had ever browsed the Internet on their phone by the end of 2005. At this point, simply offering a new service for mobile Internet, in and of itself, is probably not going to be enough to entice a new group of consumers to the Nseries or series 60 products.
However, mobile browsing has been on a slight upswing since it first became available. According to the same study, only 25% had used their phones to surf the Net in 2004. Considering that 75% of Americans own a cell phone, even if Internet access is only important to 25% of them, that’s still nearly one out of every five Americans.