Jumptap is a mobile search, advertising and content delivery (think ring tones and games) startup that got $22 million in round C funding recently. Their search business provides a “white label” search box on mobile carrier portals. Other white label search companies include FAST, InfoSpace and Medio. Compared to Google or Yahoo, white label search vendors claim to generate more revenue for the carrier by sharing a larger percentage of advertising dollars and by giving prominent placement in search results to the carrier’s billable content like ring tones. I suspect many carrier execs consider Google, Yahoo, AOL and MS Live as competitors for their advertising revenue and user allegiance and prefer not having them on their portals.
I’ve heard a lot about JumpTap but I’ve never seen their search service. The white label mobile search engines don’t advertise their urls and don’t seek off-portal visitors. They are usually accessible only from within the carrier’s network. Occasionally I find a carrier whose mobile web deck and white label search is on a public URL. I found FAST search (review) on Australian operator Telstra’s portal. Today I found JumpTap (la.jumptap.com/la/wap/) on Alltel’s portal (wap.alltel.motricity.com/portal/home).
I expected to see links back to the Alltel portal and to the carrier’s ring tone downloads prominently featured in JumpTap’s results. But when I searched for “Britney” I got links to fan sites and entertainment news. There were some ringtone sites in the results but they were off portal and even included free sites like MocoSpace! I did a number of other queries and didn’t see any real evidence of bias toward Alltel pages or products. I’d have to say that JumpTap, at least as configured for Alltel, is no more biased than Yahoo or Google. JumpTap doesn’t return as many hits as the well known engines but it seemed to be pretty good at returning relevant and useful results for the queries I tried. I was pleasantly surprised by JumpTap’s search product. The best part is that it’s a pure mobile search engine that returns only sites that are designed for mobile rather than transcoded PC sites. Both Yahoo and Google emphasize transcoded web results over mobile ones. AOL and MS Live don’t even search the mobile web, returning only full web sites modified to be more mobile friendly. While transcoded pages have their place, they are never as usable on the tiny screen as well designed mobile pages.
Everyone’s trying to improve mobile search lately. There seems to be a consensus that the pure web search model doesn’t scale down very well. There’s considerable experimentation going on to try to provide answers rather than just a list of web pages containing the search terms. Google has added OneBoxes to mobile results – if your query contains the name of a sports team, you get a OneBox with scores and game schedules. Queries containing place names get a weather forecast OneBox while those with a company name get a stock quote. Yahoo Mobile Search has been doing something similar for awhile and just announced oneSearch which combines results from multiple Yahoo search engines like photos, maps and web on a single result page. oneSearch is part of the downloadable Yahoo! Go product but I suspect that it will soon be rolled into Yahoo’s mobile web search as well.
Jumptap’s innovation is to have a single search box return results grouped into categories like Mobile Web, News, Local, etc. After you submit your query you get a list of categories and then choose a category to see the results. The screen shot shows the result of a search for “Apple”. The News category contains stories about Apple published today, Mobile Web results are mostly items from Apple Tech sites like MacRumours. Chat results are various UPOC chat rooms with Apple in their name and Stock is a detailed APPL quote. I find this design works pretty well. I can enter shorter queries and use the categories as filters to zero in on the types of results I want. I didn’t expect to like JumpTap but I do.
Disclaimer: JumpTap seems to have a lot of highly placed links to my sites, yeswap.com and wapreview.mobi, more than the big search engines. I don’t know why this is. I certainly didn’t pay them and I don’t know anyone there. The only contact I’ve had with JumpTap is submitting my sites via their online form, something I do with every mobile search engine I hear about. Hopefully my site’s high search rankings haven’t colored my review, but you have been warned.
JumpTap can be found in Yeswap’s Search/Web-WAP Search/ folder