Google Receives 50 Times More Searches on iPhone

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THE FINANCIAL TIMES

By Maija Palmer and Paul Taylor in Barcelona

Published: February 13 2008 18:42 | Last updated: February 13 2008 18:42

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Google on Wednesday said it had seen 50 times more searches on Apple‘s iPhone than any other mobile handset, adding weight to the group’s confidence at being able to generate significant revenues from the mobile internet.

“We thought it was a mistake and made our engineers check the logs again,” Vic Gundotra, head of Google’s mobile operations told the Financial Times at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

If the trend continues and other handset manufacturers follow Apple’s lead in making web access easy, the number of mobile searches will overtake fixed internet searches “within the next several years”, Mr Gundotra said.

More searches mean increased revenues for Google, which makes its money from advertising attached to search results. Google has never separated out its mobile revenues but Mr Gundotra said the business was growing “above expectations”, both in terms of usage and revenues.

Google’s comments echo figures released recently by AT&T and O2, which carry the iPhone exclusively in the US and UK respectively.

In the US, AT&T said average revenue per user for iPhone users was nearly double the average, because iPhone users took large data packages on top of their voice calls.

In the UK, O2 hopes that the high usage levels will fuel the nascent mobile ad market and unlock a potentially large revenue stream.

This week it emerged that Google had lost a contract with T-Mobile to Yahoo, meaning Yahoo’s search engine will be featured on the T-Mobile mobile internet site.

However, Google said contracts like these were becoming less important, as mobile users increasingly wanted to browse beyond an operator’s own site.

“The world is changing. Users want an internet without fences. They know how to type in Google.com if they want to get to it. Two years ago the operators were still playing the role of gate­keepers but that is no longer the role for them,” Mr Gundotra said.

Mr Gundotra said Google was unlikely to build its own handset, in spite of speculation in the technology sector that it might do so.

“We want every phone to be a Google phone,” said Mr Gundotra. “We are ultimately talking about thousands of devices.” The best way to do this would be to get Google’s mobile operating system, Android, deployed on as many types of handsets as possible, he said.

Google announced plans for the open source Android operating system earlier this year, and has signed up 34 handset, software and operator partners into an alliance to develop the system.

The first Android products are expected to be announced in the second half of this year.

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