Yahoo and Mobile Search

November 11, 2008

I have fooled around with speech to text for years. When I get a mobile device that wants me to talk to it, I disable the function. The reason is that I make calls from noisy places. The ambient noise combined with my goose honks baffles the speech to text software. A reader sent me a link to Stephen Shankland’s summary of his experience with Yahoo’s mobile voice search. You can read the full text of his story here. Mr. Shankland does a good job of summarizing what’s good and bad with the Yahoo system. In my opinion, the most interesting comments in the write up were not the assessment of Yahoo’s mobile search. I noted:

  • Yahoo licensed technology from Vlingo. Google’s Sergey Brin has a voice search patent (US7027987) in this field which underscores the difference between the two competitors’ approaches. Google, according to my recollection, also licenses some technology, but one of the big guys has his hand in this field at Google.
  • Mr. Shankland’s view is that mobile search is immature. I have been using mobile phones and searching for information from the day I got my first Motorola that could connect. Mobile search has worked; the problem is the form factor and the ambient noise problem that plagues me.
  • Yahoo calls the service “OneSearch with Voice”. I have a tough time keeping these names straight. For me this is Yahoo Mobile Search.

Mr. Shankland also includes a chunk of useful market data in his article. Will Yahoo surge to the top of the mobile search market? We will have to wait and see. Yahoo has been struggling of late.

Stephen Arnold, November 11, 2008


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