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Mobile Search: A Rising Tide Lifts Boats Which Are in the Water and Float

June 22, 2015

Data about mobile search are plentiful. Everyone from unemployed middle school teachers to failed webmasters telling real stories outputs mobile information. For a venture firm’s viewpoint, navigate to “Presentation: Mobile Is Eating the World.” There is a slide deck and a video for those too busy to read.

The assumption on which the presentation is built appears to be “Mobile is making technology universal.” The idea strikes me as one which the original AT&T formulated, but that just useful technical DNA. Humans communicate. Mobile phones do the job. Ergo: Mobile is a big deal.

One of the more interesting visuals in the presentation is a reminder to companies whose business model is built on traditional approaches to computing. I wonder if Google realizes that its ad-centric revenue is a product of the desktop computing era? Here’s the graphic I printed out and tucked into my “Doom Is Approaching” folder:


The data come from the mid tier consulting firm Gartner, but the nifty orange line suggests that mid tier consultants along with other traditional outfits may have to rejigger their approach to the brave new mobile world.

If you are looking for information to support a mobile search initiative, Andreesen Horowitz has just what you may need. The presentation does not explore the information access limitations of mobile ubiquity. My hunch is that no one cares. The information world fits nicely in a small display.

Stephen E Arnold, June 23, 2015

Wisdom of Verizon AOL Deal Questioned

June 16, 2015

Sarah Lacy, founder and editor-in-chief at PandoDaily, is highly skeptical of the official rational behind Verizon’s recent acquisition of AOL. She posits, “Can’t We All Agree the Justifications for this AOL/Verizon Deal are Bat#### Insane?” The post begins:

“What is it about AOL mergers that make no sense?

“I’ve spent the morning intermittently reading various reports by the financial press about Verizon’s surprise/not surprise acquisition of AOL. Early on, they seem divided on whether it was about buying ad tech or content, with many pundits saying Verizon was going the Comcast route… and then it became clear that AOL’s biggest media asset, the Huffington Post, would likely be spun off. The press was similarly divided on whether or not Armstrong was long shopping this company or simply got wowed by how awesome Verizon is during a meeting at Sun Valley.

“But everyone — including the company– insists this deal was about two buzzwords: Mobile. Video. AOL put out some dizzying justifications and everyone nodded like they totally understood.

“Wait, what?”

Lacy doesn’t buy the idea that Verizon acquired AOL for its mobile and video chops (she has a point there). In fact, it quickly becomes clear that the writer’s main problem is with AOL chairman and ex-Googler Tim Armstrong, for she spends much virtual ink delineating his errors, past and present. (She’s especially critical of his handling of the Huffington Post.) Lacy also refutes official statements about this deal one by one, comparing the whole situation to a nonsensical Lewis Carroll scene. See the article if you, too, think this deal is fishy (or if, for some reason, you desire ammo against Mr. Armstrong.)

Cynthia Murrell, June 16, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Google Information Retrieval: Not Just Acceptable. Insanely Better

June 12, 2015

Like the TSA’s perfect bag, Google’s search is the apex of findability, according to “Google Now Has Just Gotten Insanely Better and Very Freaky.” What causes such pinnacles of praise? According to the write up:

Google announced at an event in Paris a Location Aware Search feature that can answer a new set of questions, without the user having to ask questions that should include addresses or proper place names. Asking Google Now questions like “what is this museum?” or “when was this building built?” in proximity of the Louvre in Paris will get you answers about the Louvre, as Google will be able to use your location and understand what you meant by “this” or “this building”.

How does the feature work when one is looking for information about the location of a Dark Web hidden services server in Ashburn, Virginia? Ah, not so helpful perhaps? What’s the value of a targeted message in this insanely better environment? Good question.

Stephen E Arnold, June 12, 2015

Your Mobile Is the Search Interface: In App or In Ept Revisited

June 7, 2015

I wrote an article for Information Today about the shift from having control of a search to being controlled by a search. The idea is that with an in app search function, the convenience makes the user in ept. With limited choices and the elimination of user defined filtering, the in app search converts searchers into puppets. The string puller is the ubiquitous and convenient search system.

I read “How Google Is Taking Search Outside the Box.” Nifty title but the opposite, in my opinion, is what’s “appening.” Search is now within the mobile device.

The write up asserts:

But search is still the heart of Google, even though the division that once went by that name is now called “Knowledge.” This reflects an evolution of Google search from something that pointed users to relevant websites to an all-knowing digital oracle that often provides answers to questions instantly (or sooner!) from a vast corpus of information called the Knowledge Graph. The whole ball of wax is threatened by the fact that the I/O of billions of users is now centered on mobile devices.

Google is indeed threatened with a search revenue problem. One way to address providing information to a user is to move the interaction inside the Google “walled garden.” In Google Version 2.0, now out of print, I explained that the walled garden allows Google to control the messages, information, and search results. The user consumes what Google delivers. Convenience for many is more important than taking control of the information provided.

For me, it is very, very difficult to run queries on a mobile device. The size and the keyboards present a problem. The results are difficult to manipulate. When I run queries from my desktop, I am able to move content, save it, output it, and process it using tools which are not available on a mobile device.

I do not accept mobile outputs as accurate. Last week I was in Prague. My mobile device connected in Frankfurt, Germany, and the system required two days to figure out that I was working in Prague. The few stabs I took at getting maps for Prague required lots of thumb typing.

The combination of half cooked software, high latency mobile systems for content delivery, and the paramount need to display unwanted information were evident.

The fix, for me, was to take my laptop computer, locate a “neutral” Wi-Fi connection, and take control of the queries.

Those who mindlessly consume what an in app experience delivers are racing toward ineptness. Sorry. Consuming information without considering what’s presented, ensuring that the output is one that meets the needs of the user, and performing the filtering function oneself are pretty dangerous behaviors.

Google is about revenue. The logic of the math club is not an approach designed to help out users. The problem is that consumers of information are not able to think about the objectivity, accuracy, or the relevance of the information.

Not good.

Stephen E Arnold, June 7, 2015

Facebook Program May Disintermediate Google

June 5, 2015

Soon, Facebook users may not have to navigate to Google for relevant links then copy-and-paste them into posts and comments. TechCrunch reports, “Skip Googling with Facebook’s New ‘Add a Link’  Mobile Status Search Engine.” If this program currently being tested on a sample group makes it to all users, you can impress your “friends” a few seconds faster, and with fewer clicks. Actually reading what you find before you share the link is up to you. The article describes:

“Alongside buttons to add photos or locations, some iOS users are seeing a new ‘Add A Link’ option. Just punch in a query, and Facebook will show a list of matching links you might want to share, allow you to preview what’s on those sites, and let you tap one to add it to your status with a caption or share statement. Results seem to be sorted by what users are most likely to share, highlighting recently published sites that have been posted by lots of people. …

“If rolled out to all users, it would let them avoid Googling or digging through Facebook’s News Feed to find a link to share. The ‘Add A Link’ button could get users sharing more news and other publisher-made content. Not only does that fill the News Feed with posts that Facebook can put ads next to. It also gives it structured data about what kind of news and publishers you care about, as well as the interests of your friends depending on if they click or Like your story.”

Writers Josh Constine and Kyle Russell observe that, as of last year, Facebook drives nearly 25 percent of “social” clicks, and publishers are becoming dependent on those clicks. Facebook stands to benefit if their Add A Link button enhances that dependency. Then there is the boost to ad revenue the site is likely to realize by keeping users inside their Facebook sessions, instead of wandering into the rest of the Web. A move that will both please users and the bottom line– well played, Facebook.

Cynthia Murrell, June 5, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

The Unacceptable Planned Obsolescence of the Android

June 5, 2015

The op ed on Tom’s Hardware titled Google Can’t Ignore The Android Update Problem Any Longer inspects the release process for Androids, particularly the Android 5.0 Lollipop and the 5.1 iteration. The problem Google faces with its major upgrade per year schedule is that while the Lollipop garners 9.7 percent of the market, it might be several years before the majority of android users catch up to this version, by which time Google might be releasing Android 8.0 (Snickers? M&M?) The article explains the issues with transitioning,

“Because Android is open source and because so many (essentially) OEM-tweaked “forks” of it exist, a “clean” upgrade path is almost impossible. To have a clean standardized update system would mean all the OEMs would have to agree to abide strictly by Google’s guidelines for what they can and cannot modify on the platform.

However, as soon as Google tries to do something like that, the OEMs usually cry foul that Google is making Android more proprietary.”

Obviously Google does not want to lose the business of those OEMs, either. But the article argues that this is unlikely due to Android and iOS cornering the market. The final point is the weakness in the update system due to users desiring more secure platforms, meaning Android adoption will only lessen.

Chelsea Kerwin, June 5, 2014

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

SoundHound Voice Search

June 3, 2015

Annoyed with Cortana and Siri? SoundHound has an alternative for some folks. SoundHound’s recognition technology can pinpoint the name of a song . According to “SoundHound’s New Voice Search App Makes Siri and Cortana Look Slow.”

I highlighted this passage:

Mohajer’s [SoundHound wizard] original vision is here in the form of Hound, a voice search app that can handle incredibly complex questions and spit out answers with uncanny speed. Right now, you have to ask those questions inside the Hound app, but the company hopes to get the technology everywhere — even your toaster…

The article continues:

Hound the app functions and feels almost exactly like Google’s Voice Search, but seems much faster at identifying words and delivering answers.

Will Google and Siri improve their systems? Worth watching and checking out the SoundHound system in real world conditions with loud background conversation and a person with less than BBC grade enunciation.

Stephen E Arnold, June 3, 2015

Search Functionality for the Roku 2

May 29, 2015

In with search, out with the remote-based headphone jack. Roku has had to weigh their priorities while considering user-friendly features, we learn from “Roku 2 Gets a Facelift with New Search Engine” at ITProPortal. The need for an affordable price point required the Roku 2 media-streaming player to drop some features so new ones could be added. Writer Sead Fadilpaši? reports:

“The new remote will work on IR, meaning you’ll need a clear line of sight to switch channels. The remote has also lost the headphone jack, which some will find quite saddening, as well as the motion sensor. Both remotes will now feature four dedicated buttons, which can’t be reprogrammed, giving users quick access to Netflix, YouTube, Google Play, and Rdio. New features also include a search engine and show notifications, letting people know when a certain show is available. The new Roku 2 will cost as much as the Apple TV after its price drop – a very competitive £69. Aside from improved hardware specs Roku has confirmed to Pocket-lint the new box will come with improved software that should have a dramatic affect in speeding up accessing your favorite channels, shows and movies.”

All Roku devices will be getting the revised interface, which adds a couple of features and is expected to speed boot times. The write-up reminds us that the Roku has a mobile app, with a new version due out soon. So if you really miss that headphone jack, just swap their remote for your smart phone. I leave the motion-sensor hack to you.

Cynthia Murrell, May 29, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Decrease from TrueVue

May 21, 2015

The article on Business Insider titled Google Has a New and Unexpected Explanation for Its Falling Ad Rates places the blame on Youtube’s “TrueView” video ads. For some time there has been concern over Google’s falling cost-per-click (CPC) money, the cash earned each time a user clicks on an ad. The first quarter of this year has CPC down 7%. The article quotes outgoing Google CFO Patrick Pichette on the real reason for these numbers. He states,

“TrueView ads currently monetize at a lower rate than ad clicks on  As you know, video ads generally reach people earlier in the purchase funnel, and so across the industry, they tend to have a different pricing profile than that of search ads,” Pichette explained. “Excluding the impact of YouTube TrueView ads, growth in Sites clicks would be lower, but still positive and CPCs would be healthy and growing Y/Y,” Pichette continued.

It is often thought that the increasing dependence on mobile internet access through smartphones is the reason for falling CPC. Google can’t charge as much for mobile ads as for PC ads, making it a logical leap that this is the area of concern. Pichette offers a different view, and one with an entirely positive spin.
Chelsea Kerwin, May 21, 2014

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at


Make Mine Mobile Search

May 21, 2015

It was only a matter of time, but Google searches on mobile phones and tablets have finally pulled ahead of desktop searches says The Register in “Peak PC: ‘Most’ Google Web Searches ‘Come From Mobiles’ In US.”   Google AdWords product management representative Jerry Dischler said that more Google searches took place on mobile devices in ten countries, including the US and Japan.  Google owns 92.22 percent of the mobile search market and 65.73 percent of desktop searches.  What do you think Google wants to do next?  They want to sell more mobile apps!

The article says that Google has not shared any of the data about the ten countries except for the US and Japan and the search differential between platforms.  Google, however, is trying to get more people to by more ads and the search engine giant is making the technology and tools available:

“Google has also introduced new tools for marketers to track their advertising performance to see where advertising clicks are coming from, and to try out new ways to draw people in. The end result, Google hopes, is to bring up the value of its mobile advertising business that’s now in the majority, allegedly.”

Mobile ads are apparently cheaper than desktop ads, so Google will get lower revenues.  What will probably happen is that as more users transition to making purchases via phones and tablets, ad revenue will increase vi mobile platforms.

Whitney Grace, May 21, 2015
Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

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