People often think and talk about Google in terms of ulterior motives. There’s the official position and then “what’s really going on.”
I’d observe instead that Google typically acts in self-interested ways, though it often presents its choices in terms of broader market benefits. This may fuel some of the conspiracy theories around Google.
The Google-led AMP initiative is a good example. The company is encouraging the publishing standard as a way to improve the mobile web user experience: faster loading pages, with no annoying pop-ups. AMP holds promise for a better overall content experience on the mobile web.
Yet Google also wants the mobile web to be more user-friendly because if mobile web usage declines (for whatever reason) Google’s revenues will likely decline. Call it “enlightened self interest.”
Turning to the topic at hand, Mike Blumenthal wrote a post that discusses Google’s increasingly “immersive” local search experience:
On mobile, Google has been slowly moving towards “immersive search” as the local search experience. Google’s goal is to allow the user to get all of the information that they need via Google, never having to leave for another site.
Some continue to see this kind of move as a betrayal of Google’s original mission and effort to create a kind of anti-competitive barrier. I see this rather as an effort to match the utility and functionality of apps. Traditional Google search results have limited value in a mobile context. What users want is more complete solutions that offer more end-to-end capabilities. Evidence of what I’m saying is reflected in some of the Localytics data below.
Smartphone owners fundamentally don’t want to bounce between a list of mobile search results and individual websites and back again. They want more functionality in a simpler environment tailored to the smaller screen. The want “answers.” They want to complete tasks and transactions without using multiple sites.
This is why apps are winning vs. the mobile web. Only 5 percent of mobile media time now is spent on the mobile web according to Yahoo-Flurry. For the most part apps do a better job meeting user expectations and providing a good experience vs. mobile sites. There are of course great mobile sites and bad apps. But the generalization holds.
I see Google trying to straddle the web-app divide by continuing to organize mobile web content but providing more “answers” and a more “complete” (or immersive) experience that is increasingly app-like. These are survival moves by Google in an effort to adapt to a fickle and rapidly changing consumer market.
Do you disagree?