Tech titans Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), have commenced an epic battle for supremacy in mobile search and mobile payments — and it’s literally happening right under your nose. They’re fighting to determine how verbal searching will change mobile search and jumpstart mobile payments.
Both companies are dreaming of a new world of search, where mobile computing devices will hang onto your every spoken request and whim — and turn it into a recurring tsunami of mobile search and payment revenue.
A Mobile Customer = A Big, Walking Bag of Money
When a consumer accesses their smartphone or tablet, they are far more likely to be out and about – which makes them a prime customer. After all, we still make most of our purchases while we’re away from home. So it’s easy to see why Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) must drool at the thought of the money to be made via on-the-go searches and transactions.
Just look at the vast resources both companies have invested in their mobile mapping technology. They’re not doing so out of altruistic concern in your navigation; if they know where you are right now, and to know where you are going, it’s easier for both Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) to sell you things along the way.
What Makes Mobile Search Different
The phrase “Google” is already synonymous with search, so it’s easy to imagine that the company would dominate on the go the way it already does on the desktop. But the rapid move toward voice search — Apple’s Siri, Google I/O — may change that. Talking, not typing, led to a phenomena that I call the “OS hand off”.
In voice search, it’s now the mobile operating system’s (OS) job to determine how your search will be handled. For example, using Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s Siri, a search for restaurants or lodging launches Yelp, while a request for movie times launches Fandango.
Note, that in traditional online search, it was the user that chose the search service, whether it was Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Bing, or some other search engine. However in mobile, the opportunity exists for the OS to create an intermediate “search platform” which “hands off” search queries based on search criteria and business partnerships.
In the case of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL): Movie searches go to Fandango, dining searches to Yelp, and sports searches to Yahoo.
The rapid increases in the sophistication of voice recognition search provides a huge revenue opportunity to the company controls the mobile “search platform” that “hands off” the search.
Gartner estimates mobile advertising/search will increase 400%, from $11.4 billion in 2013 to $24.6 billion in 2016. The Asia/Pacific region, where the adoption of handsets for digital consumption outpaces the West, is leading the charge.
The Power of Mobile Payments
However, mobile advertising is just half the story in mobile search. Both Apple and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) are also jockeying for position in mobile payment transactions. Providing a mobile platform that handles both search and payments, in my opinion, is quickly becoming the holy grail in the mobile services space.