Several mobile search services that America Online made publicly available for testing back in July are now ready for prime time, the company has announced.
To access the services, users need to fire up a browser on their mobile devices and go to mobile.aolsearch.com. There they will have the option of using the AOL Search general Web search engine, its Pinpoint Shopping comparison shopping engine, or its AOL Yellow Pages listing of local businesses.
Users can submit queries using any word or phrase, as in a regular PC-based search engine, as opposed to some mobile search services that require users to use specific keywords and syntax.
Moreover, the AOL system, using technology from InfoGin, ensures that all Web pages a user clicks on from the search results are properly rendered, not just those that have been designed specifically to be displayed on mobile devices.
AOL doesn't charge for the use of the search services, but carriers may apply data-transmission fees.
Mobile Interest Expected
Although demand for mobile search services exists and is bound to increase in the future, search engines and carriers have to do a better job of educating and training users, said Gary Price, news editor of Search Engine Watch, an online publication focused on search engine marketing.
He often comes across people who have no idea that their mobile device is capable of querying search engines, be it via text messaging or via a mobile browser, he said.
"People can't use what they don't know [they have]," Price said.
Despite this educational hurdle, demand for mobile search services already exists and is bound to grow significantly in the future, Price said.
"Eventually, the idea that you have to be tied down to a desk to do certain types of research" will disappear, he said.