Mobile internet search engine use rises

According to surveys conducted by ABI Research in 2007 and 2008, 70% of respondents used their mobile phones to access information through internet search engines last year. That represents a substantial 14% increase over 2007. The consumption of mobile data services, including search, has steadily increased year over year as indicated by the use of email and web from a mobile phone.

That jump in mobile search usage is nearly double the increase in users who said they accessed mobile websites generally. “Mobile search represents a utility for information anytime and anywhere,” said senior analyst Jeff Orr. “With a few keywords, one can quickly identify movie times, the discography of a musical artist, recommendations for a local eatery and so much more.”

Some types of content accessed via mobile phones rose in popularity from 2007 to 2008. These included news, game downloads, music downloads, and especially video downloads. A significantly lower percentage in 2008 reported downloading a ringtone than the prior year, while the interest in location information, social networking and sports remained about the same.

“Use of the mobile phone goes well beyond voice calls,” added Orr. “A significant percentage of respondents say they use their handset for mobile email and web access, reflecting the broader access to inexpensive or all you can eat mobile data services in the US.”

The surveys, each of which sampled more than 1000 mobile phone users in the United States aged 14 to 59 and across a wide range of demographic profiles, were conducted in November 2007 and December 2008. They queried users’ preferences with regard to a variety of mobile email and web usage questions.