Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Here’s What Apple and Google Are Fighting Over: Search Goes Mobile by 2016

The tech press provides constant updates on the Apple versus Google mobile war, using statistics about unit sales, activation numbers, app downloads, etc. But it’s always good to remember what the war is about.

Here’s a helpful reminder, via a Bernstein research note out today. By 2016, analyst Carlos Kirjner predicts, the majority of Web search queries will come from mobile devices.

One interesting caveat to that projection: It doesn’t include searches from tablets. I gather this is because Kirjner is trying to distinguish between searches conducted via wireless networks and those made using broadband connections, via Wi-Fi, although I’m not quite sure why that matters.

But if you added tablet searches, you’d reach the tipping point that much earlier. And it will get there much sooner in the U.S., anyway, because smartphone penetration is much higher here than other parts of the world.

Given that Apple’s iOS devices use Google search now — last fall, Google said that two-thirds of its search traffic comes from iOS — all mobile growth is good for Google.

But at some point, Kirjner suggests, Apple may decide to jettison Google for a competitor like, say, Microsoft. And that could cause real problems for Larry Page and company. But those problems would be much, much worse if Google hadn’t created an iPhone competitor in the first place.

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There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle