If you build it, they will come: Google sees big boost in mobile traffic

If you build it, they will come: Google sees big boost in mobile traffic

By Jacqui Cheng
| Published: August 23, 2007 – 11:38AM CT

The use of Google’s mobile applications has gotten an unexpected bump this
summer, according to Google VP of search products Marissa Mayer. Mayer spoke
at the Search Engine Strategies Conference in San Jose, CA yesterday and discussed
how the increase in mobile app usage helped offset the typical summer slump
in traffic, usually attributed to people going on vacation, enjoying the outdoors,
and otherwise staying the heck away from a computer.

Mayer told reporters "We are seeing more and more mobile activity," according to Reuters. "I think this is sort of a sign that people are becoming
savvier with their mobile devices." She also said that she believes devices
are getting better and more capable of handling robust mobile applications
and that the technology gap is closing so that more people have access to
them.

That gap has, at least in part, been closed by the introduction of Apple’s
iPhone in June, which is much more targeted toward non-business consumers
than other smartphones on the market. Google reported that it was a jump
of 40 to 50 percent of the use in the mobile Google Maps application immediately
after the iPhone launch—unsurprising, as Google Maps is not only one
of the few native applications
on the iPhone, but it also contains lots
of (rather useful) eye candy.

But Google Maps isn’t the only thing driving the bump in summer traffic;
Mayer said that the use of mobile e-mail and mobile searches rose as well
before the iPhone even came out. Between May and June of this year, Google’s
mobile apps saw an overall traffic increase of 35 percent, which is mostly
made up of US-based traffic. Traffic in Japan and Europe are reportedly going
up as well, with Gmail and mobile search being popular on the other side of
the ponds.

Google has put a lot of effort into developing for the mobile space recently.
Aside from the already-popular mobile version of Gmail, Google beefed
up its mobile search page
this March with more intuitive search results
for mobile users and introduced a mobile
Google Calendar
interface in May. It has also filed for new mobile patents
that hint at things to come, such as mapped
results
when performing a mobile search. The company is also expected
to launch a new system for facilitating
mobile content sales
, such as ringtones and wallpapers.

Google’s efforts to become the biggest name in mobile applications are certainly
paying off, as Mayer said that traffic is remaining at elevated levels through
August. And assuming that the summer rush in mobile traffic wasn’t entirely
due to new smartphone users showing off cool features to their friends, Google’s
mobile popularity should only continue to grow. The elevated traffic levels
may also help fuel Google’s rumored plans to release
a phone (or set of phones)
of its own, which would undoubtedly rely heavily
on Google’s set of mobile apps.

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