Microsoft – Yahoo: Bad News For Mobile Search

oneSearch - Mobile Web Results

By now you’ve probably heard about the Microsoft – Yahoo deal. Yahoo will shutter their search engine and instead source search results from Microsoft’s Bing. There are lots of details about advertising revenue share that I won’t bore you with. If you are interested in that sort of thing, Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land has a good summary.

While probably necessary for Yahoo’s survival, I’m worried about the future of my favorite mobile search engine,  Yahoo’s oneSearch. What I like about oneSearch is that, unlike Bing, it clearly distinguishes  between desktop and mobile sites in results  and lets you restrict search results to sites that were designed for mobile.  Bing’s mobile search returns almost entirely desktop sites which it transcodes in an attempt to make them usable on phones.  Made for mobile versions of sites occasionally occur in Bing results but they are lumped in with all the desktop sites in the same list and there is no way to limit results to mobile sites only.

If I’m using a mobile phone, I’d much rather have search results that emphasized sites optimized for my device by the original designer.  Even on an iPhone, a page that was created with the strengths and limitations of the device in mind should give a better a user experience than one built assuming it will be viewed on a PC where Flash and Silverlight are available.

oneSearch isn’t the only search engine that offers an option to view  mobile-only results.  Google does too, although the option is hidden at the bottom of a dropdown which itself is at the bottom of each results page.  There are also some good mobile only search engines like JumpTap and dotMobi’s  But oneSearch seems to offer more relevant results than the others and it displays a selection of clearly labeled mobile web  results by default for every search.

The integration of Bing results into Yahoo search will take time, up to two years by some estimates. Hopefully Microsoft will use that time to develop a better way of identifying and displaying mobile optimized pages  for searches conducted on mobile devices.

Related Post: Bing Mobile Buries and Transcodes Mobile Web Sites

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