Going mobile

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In the recent Olympics, smartphones and tablets took a more central role in providing people more information about the games, Google said in a report.

Google said there were times when more searches were “performed on tablets and smartphones than on computers.”

The search giant said they’ve been seeing “large spikes in global mobile search volume” in major sporting events and the trend continued with Olympics.

And one key usage of smartphones and tablets spotted by Google is to serve as second screen to get information on what they were seeing on another screen – the television.

“We’ve crunched some data from the past week, and the opening ceremony is a great illustration of how mobile devices have taken center stage. Fans turned to their smartphones and tablets to find more information about the incredible feats and celebrities that they saw on screen,” Google said.

The company cited how searches, many on smartphones and tablets, for Paul McCartney surged when he performed “Hey Jude” during the opening ceremonies.

And the surge was a global phenomenon with the US recording 47 percent as combined mobile search share; Japan, 55 percent; Australia, 45 percent; United Kingdom, 46 percent; and South Korea, 36 percent.

A more industry-specific study by Google provides a peek into smartphone and tablet use in travel. The Google study “2012 Traveler” projected a 15 percent to 25 percent growth in searches related to travel. Of the growth projection, desktops are expected to contribute 0 percent; smartphones, 68 percent; and tablets, 180 percent.

The study also found increasing use of mobile for travel information at 38 percent for leisure travelers, which is up from 31 percent in 2011, and 57 percent for business travelers, up from 56 percent in 2011.

The shift to mobile is truly underway. And that shift will have ramifications across industries.

In the Philippines, that shift is speeding up. We are, after all, known as a country enamored with mobile phones that once took pride in being the text messaging capital of the world. Another Google report, the “Global Business Map,” shows a 1,211 percent growth in mobile search queries in the Philippines. That number is more than double the growth in desktop queries, which stood at 546 percent.

The shift to mobile will bring with it new ways to consume information. Already, there have been major changes in consumption of news because of tablets, smartphones and reading apps such as Pulse, Flipboard, Google Currents and Zite and services like Readability and Pocket (formerly Read It Later).

I think the shift to mobile, along with availability of next generation high-speed networks like LTE or long term evolution, will make possible the availability of a layer of information on real life through such technologies as QR or quick response codes, augmented reality and near-field communication or NFC.

That is for the future. But even now, the phone is becoming our main personal computer that will increasingly allow us to access data whenever and wherever we need it.

A personal example: When story broke last Saturday on the crash of the plane carrying Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, I kept up with the story just on my phone, mostly through Twitter and at times through mobile browsing of news sites. Previously, I’d have opened the TV set or booted up my laptop. Not last Saturday. I found that the mobile phone had sufficed for my breaking news needs.

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