Monday, August 29, 2011

Mobile Search Still has a long way to go...about 17,000kms

In 2008 and early 2009 I was a mobile skeptic. I argued on a number of posts that that true mobile Internet was still years away. Then in Nov 2009 Google bought AdMob and I ate humble pie - admitting that the mobile Internet was here to stay. As a convert I became a near fanatic writing a two part piece on Tnooz (part 1 here, part 2 here) on the mobile revolution and what to expect next. I also predicted that this year mobile would "die" as a separate category and simply be subsumed into the "regular" internet.

But yesterday I was brought down to earth again and reminded how there is still so much that needs to be done to make the mobile Internet ubiquitous and universally useful.

I found myself yesterday at the TRAVELtech conference with a problem. The sole of my shoe was beginning to fall off. Rapidly. I was about to go on stage to present but became worried that between the audience and the stage my sole would fall off completely making me look more hobo and hopeless than serious and CEO like. So I did want any normal exec of the second decade of the 21st century would do. I pulled out my iphone and Googled "shoe repairs sussex st" (with sussex st being the major downtown city street behind me). I then followed up by prompting Google to accept and read my location using the GPS and manually accept that I was in "Sydney,NSW". Below is a screenshot of the search results

If you are on a device that cant see the image above, let me type out the text for you. It says
"Did you mean A B & C Shoe Repairs, Croft Rd, Crowborough, Sussex TN6 1DL United Kingdom"
A quick follow up Google search indicates that this particular shoe store is about 17,000km from my current location. Clearly the word Sussex confused the search algorithm. But how? How did the world "sussex" override that Google new exactly where I was via the GPS and new the broad region through by selection of Sydney. Either way, I was forced to put down the phone and try to find some double sided tape to save the day. I am still a mobile fan and believer but am reminded that there is much to doo before the shoe and the BOOT are fully satisfied by the phone.

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