Google to be a force in mobile, too

More research predicting world domination for Google! Well, somehow anyway. According to a new report, Google will succeed with its expansion into mobile. Now, I thought they were there already and had been doing a bit of business there for a while: they're the search engine of choice for quite a number of network operators already (although the jury is still out if this works: see e.g. here), and besides keep adding nifty apps to the mix (their mobile versions of Google Maps and Google Mail apps, well or at least for the Blackberry are pure bliss!). The latter are - for the time being - only an extension to their web apps without, notably, the ads; but this is only a question of time, I think: screen resolutions make AdWord a little awkward these days but higher resolution phone screens (such as for the new Blackberry Bold, which has widescreen QVGA) will likely change that. Google does offer AdSense for mobile already although there, too, no data on uptake or revenue is available (cf. press release).

On the carrier deck search side, I understand that this as well is more a question of land grab rather than actual revenues so far but the above applies, too. That is hearsay more than confirmed fact though.

Now, the aforementioned report thinks that Android-powered phones will grab 3% market share for smartphones in 2009 (corresponding to 8m devices). This is respectable. However, Apple's iPhone is said to hold 17% of the global smartphone market and it is predicted to ship 45m iPhones in 2009. Shouldn't Android phones be able to do more? I mean: Android is not only Google, it is also a gazillion other molochs of the mobile telecoms world (see e.g. here and here). Even if those numbers were right, they wouldn't give Google world domination (remember Nokia? They hold some 40% of the world market...).

Then, say see local search being key, with which I agree. In their own words:
Local search will be key to market growth: innovations in mobile search and advertising will allow for improved local search, directly competing with 'yellow pages' type proximity marketing services. The challenge for Google is to encourage consumers to start performing functions on their mobile browser that they would previously have done on their PC in already established markets.
So: opportunity = local search and connecting this to Google's fantastic capabilities in "normal" search. Threat = no uptake. I would add: getting local relevance and context right is not as easy as one should think (when I walk through London's SoHo, do you think I am looking for media companies (Fox, Sony, etc.) or for Agent Provocateur?

I do think though that Google is indeed best positioned to get this one right: they solved the tough bit of the puzzle, and that is to sift through the vast arrays of the Internet to rank the "right" pages. To limit these to local relevant ones only, is surely "only" a question of adding another condition to your algorithms...

Also: the whole Android idea makes a lot of sense, and Google clearly has the lead in the Open Handset Alliance. So they "just" have to keep up with the innovative speed of the markets then... 

Note: I do not get paid by either Google or RIM (unfortunately) but I do use their services...