Mobile Search: A Force to be Reckoned With – ECIR 2013 Industry Talk


On Wednesday 27th of March 2013 I gave an invited industry talk on the topic of mobile search at ECIR 2013 in Moscow. This years edition of ECIR was great. A wonderful conference, friendly community, in a beautiful building in snowy and (very, very, very) cold Moscow. The industry day line up included speakers from Twitter, Bing, Microsoft Research, LinkedIn, Yandex and mail.ru. Aside from the industry day, there were many great talks and keynotes. The proceedings are now online and available here and all keynotes and industry talks were recorded and will be available soon.

As mentioned my talk was on the topic of mobile search, a research area I’ve devoted the past 10 years to or so. Recently the world has witnessed a revolution in terms of mobile web and mobile search usage. Mobile phones, once deemed as simple communications devices, now provide mobile users with access to a wealth of online content, anytime and anywhere. In 2012, the increasing presence of mobile devices caused desktop search to decline for the first time ever; a level of growth that simply cannot be ignored.

The aim my this talk was to take a nostalgic look back at the simple beginnings of mobile search and discuss how, why and in what ways mobile search has evolved over the past 8-10 years. I highlight patterns of mobile search usage and show how they not only differ from desktop search, but they are continually evolving. And instead of taking a single, data-centric viewpoint of mobile search, I also discuss user-centric studies, highlighting the unique needs, intents and motivations of mobile searchers. Finally, I share some thoughts about where mobile search is heading, the challenges that lie ahead and discuss some of the factors that I think are important when it comes to enriching the future search experiences of mobile users. The feedback so far has been great, so for those interested I posted the slides to slideshare (see above)