Computers and iPhones and Mobile Phones, oh my!

Presented at: 18th International World Wide Web Conference (WWW2009)

by Maryam Kamvar, Melanie Kellar, Rajan Patel, Ya Xu


We present a logs-based comparison of search patterns across three platforms: computers, iPhones and conventional mobile phones. Our goal is to understand how mobile search users differ from computer-based search users, and we focus heavily on the distribution and variability of tasks that users perform from each platform. The results suggest that search usage is much more focused for the average mobile user than for the average computer-based user. However, search behavior on high-end phones resembles computer-based search behavior more so than mobile search behavior. A wide variety of implications follow from these findings. First, there is no single search interface which is suitable for all mobile phones. We suggest that for the higher-end phones, a close integration with the standard computer-based interface (in terms of personalization and available feature set) would be beneficial for the user, since these phones seem to be treated as an extension of the users' computer. For all other phones, there is a huge opportunity for personalizing the search experience for the user's "mobile needs", as these users are likely to repeatedly search for a single type of information need on their phone.

Keywords: User Interfaces and Mobile Web

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