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Google Owns The Global Mobile Space, But For How Long?

Google is dominating the global desktop search marketplace, with its current market share standing at 67%, according to Trefis. While it is good to dominate, it is even better to own – and this is almost what Google does when it comes to global mobile search. According to Statcounter, Google delivers a staggering 97% of all mobile searches worldwide today. The reliability can be questioned, however many credible sources agree that Google’s global mobile market share is greater than 90%.


Mobile advertising revenues set to explode

The future impact of mobile can no longer be questioned due to the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, but in case there are still a few sceptics out there, the following will most likely help to change that perception. With mobile broadband connections already outnumbering fixed broadband 2:1, it is easy to see why some experts predict that mobile web usage will overtake that of PCs within a relatively short amount of time. According to Gartner, mobile advertising revenues will increase dramatically over the next four years (see table below). Although the estimated figures also include revenues for display, audio and video ads, the highest revenue will come from search and locations ads, Gartner predicts.

Mobile Advertising Revenue by Region, Worldwide, 2010-2015 (Millions US Dollars)
Region 2010 2011 2015
North America 304.3 701.7 5,791.4
Western Europe 257.1 569.3 5,131.9
APAC inc. Japan 868.8 1,628.5 6,925.0
Rest of the World 196.9 410.4 2,761.7
Total 1,627.1 3,309.9 20,610.0

Source: Gartner (June 2011)

Should the Champagne already be flowing at Google’s corporate headquarters?

Being the undisputed king of mobile search, this is indeed fantastic news to the executives at Google (the fact that it is absolutely no surprise to them is a completely different matter). Obviously, Google is in a very enviable position – but that being said – the Champagne should be put on hold for a while if the objective is to maintain its superior position in the market.

According to mobiThinking, “mobile subscribers in the developed world has reached saturation point with at least one cell phone subscription per person. This means market growth is being driven by demand in the developing world, led by rapid mobile adoption in China and India, the world’s most populous nations. These two countries collectively added 300 million new mobile subscriptions in 2010 – that’s more than the total mobile subscribers in the US.”

With 30% of the world’s mobile users living in India and China, and mobile subscriptions rapidly approaching 1 billion in each country, these markets will prove vital future battlefields. While Google’s position in India is dominant with a market share from over 95%, Chinese search giant, Baidu, has gradually been gaining market share in China, largely at the expense of Google. Baidu has around 75-80% of the search market share in China and its leading position, which has been consolidated since Google pulled out of the country in 2010, gives Baidu the upper hand in terms of reaping the huge financial gains related to the rapidly growing Chinese mobile market.

Another player that Google should be concerned about is Yandex. The Russian search engine is leading in its domestic market – Europe’s largest internet market – and the company’s recent purchase of a NAVTEQ digital maps license consolidates its ambitions to grow the mobile area. Google’s mobile search “ownership” is being challenged and the first shots have just been fired. Now, let the games begin.

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Immanuel Simonsen

Research Manager at Webcertain
As the Research Manager of multilingual web marketing agency Webcertain, Immanuel heads up the company’s global market research activities and large content marketing projects. He is the author of several reports and guides, including ‘The Essential Guide to Rel-Alternate-Hreflang’ and ‘The Webcertain Global Search and Social Report 2013’. Apart from being a tutor at the International Marketing School -- teaching online marketing professionals on business opportunities around the globe -- Immanuel is a regular speaker at the International Search Summit, a leading event series dedicated to multilingual search and social media marketing.

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