Location & Mobility by the Numbers

Thanks to Matt Siltala for pointing me to the OrangeSoda blog, where they created a useful “infographic” with a bunch of local and mobile data on it. Here are some of the numbers presented, based on third-party data:

  • Local search is growing at 50% per year. Based on that formula, they project 3.45 billion local searches per month by 2012
  • Half of mobile Internet access is via mobile device
  • The top access method for local information is now mobile devices (20.7 million users per month)

I agree with OrangeSoda that the local and local-mobile markets are big and compelling. And I’m as big a proponent of the idea that local is misunderstood and much larger than people recognize. However I have some slight disagreements with the specific figures presented.

Here’s my response to these numbers based on data I have or have developed:

  • A relatively conservative estimate of the number of local searches on Google today is 2.9 billion per month. (This is based on search volumes reported by comScore and Google’s own estimates of local queries). So the OrangeSoda numbers are low
  • There are 75 million mobile Internet users today vs. 214 million US PC Internet users (per comScore). That would mean, effectively, that the mobile Internet audience in the US is 35% of the size of total PC based Internet population
  • There are many more local-mobile users than 20.7 million if you consider how many people have accessed maps or LBS info on their devices. It’s at least 50 million.
  • Though local content on mobile devices figures more prominently than on the PC, there’s no chance that there’s more local action on mobile devices (by volume) than on the PC. Eventually it may be true however.

For more discussion see my post Revisiting the Local Queries Question.  See also, Report: Local & Social Huge on Smartphones.

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10 Responses to “Location & Mobility by the Numbers”

  1. Scentsy Bricks says at

    In the grand scheme of things I don’t see local search dominating a global search. However, it will be interesting to see how relevancy is ranked based on geography.

  2. Greg Sterling says at

    Agree that relevancy will be heavily affected by geography/location in certain algo categories and ad categories. But as smartphones become just one more way to access the internet location is an important category but not the dominant one.

    However, that said, local is dominant in terms of commercial activity. People buy in stores and the Internet on mobile devices can help lead them to the POS with information and incentives.

  3. Dan Garfield says at

    I was surprised by some of the numbers too. You can check all our sources though. That number of mobile phones being the leading local access method is a direct quote from comscore http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_Releases/2009/6/comScore_Reports_Mobile_Audience_for_Local_Content_Grows_51_Percent_vs._Year_Ago

    If that wasn’t true a year ago (when they released the stat) I have a hard time believing that it isn’t true now.

  4. Aalok (@aaspire) says at

    I think when we compare mobile search with PC we are missing the “context” of searching @home and @location. Person sitting at home would prefer using PC than mobile device.

    What I mean is the “context” of “WHEN” does the user search in what condition and why. Based on that the algo’s can help to filter.

    Considering the Local search converting it to sale on POS thats true. When I went shopping sometimes if I am not confident about the price I search on deals website to check if I am getting the right price. If yes and i was saving on shipping charges so I bought it. 

    Mobile devices will be more perceived by consumers who want info impromptu and are ready to take the decision quickly. 

    Right Greg ?

  5. Greg Sterling says at


    “The mobile browser is the leading access method for seeking local information, with 20.7 million users in March 2009, up 34 percent versus year ago.”

    There are many more people seeking local information online. Google has quoted (based on their own data) that “82% of people are doing local searches on Google.” Maybe we’re talking apples and oranges a bit here but those numbers in absolute terms are way way larger than 21 million.

    ComScore’s “local” methodology online (PC) has always been extremely conservative. They under-count local on the PC.

    Sure you got all the numbers from where you say you got them. I’m just presenting some competing data. Market is large and getting larger to be sure.

  6. Dan Garfield says at


    Great point. I would expect that market to be much larger as well. The amazing thing to me is how compelling the numbers are even when we’re being really conservative. 

  7. Greg Sterling says at


    According to Interpublic’s unit Initiative: http://bit.ly/aSdpXo

    60% of mobile Internet access/usage is happening in the home and, in general, mobile Internet use happens throughout the day.

    So you can’t always make assumptions about when people are using which devices.

    Re considered vs. impromptu searches. Yes you’re right but the need “on the go” is more immediate often. I won’t plan a remodel on my phone but I may use my smartphone in the overall process when I’m away from my PC.

    Microsoft also revealed some compelling data . . . 70% of mobile searchers start and complete their activity (on Bing) in roughly one hour. On the PC that process spans a week or more for most users.

  8. Greg Sterling says at


    I agree . . . they’re big numbers and when you consider how the Internet drives offline purchases the whole phenomenon is much larger than people realize.

  9. Aalok (@aaspire) says at


    Thats true. I dont deny the fact that Local search market is huge and is growing. It will grow more and more as US consumers 2 yr contract get over and they opt for android phones and iphone.  

    You have a good point about MS that the search starts on Mobile device and finishes on Bing. The other aspect which I missed on searching for info @home is due to availability of fast Wifi.

    Local can dominate to find taxi located nearby real-time on PC and on mobile and connect directly to driver. Local has a great potential.  

    In that case I am analyzing India mkt for LBS initiative and telecom mkt. There is no content at all for India few companies have taken initiative to compile database. Asia looks promising market too. 

  10. Greg Sterling says at

    InMobil probably has data about the Indian market I would imagine.

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