Since the inception of consumer computers, the desktop has ruled the world and for more than 15 years one company has become synonymous with that world- Google. Let's face it, even if you know the specific URL of a site, pretty much every journey begins with Google. Their iron grip on desktop search has been such that their site is firmly etched into public consciousness, best illustrated by the familiar answer to most of life's questions, "Google it".
So my question is: will our reliance on Google search continue as we advance deeper into the post-desktop mobile age?
We need to consider our own search experience on a mobile device. Google's recent 'Mobile path to purchase report' assessed how 950 US consumers researched purchases via mobile. Their starting point for shopping emphasised the changing behaviour Google is now facing in a world where mobile usage is rapidly catching up with desktop; less than half surveyed opted for mobile search engines, with 59% beginning their journey on either a branded app or a branded website- highlighting the increasing importance of companies embracing mobile.
Businesses that people regularly rely on should ensure they have an accessible and user friendly presence on mobile devices; ideally a native application. Good examples of mobile apps include Hotels.com and Citymapper. Both businesses can be found through Google search, but on mobile this is almost irrelevant as users go straight to the applications.
Google 'Now' is increasingly incorporating more of our search needs into an overall mobile experience, or service. However in my opinion, in the same way that Google is our first port of call on desktop, it seems as though the app stores are the equivalent on mobile. The Holy Grail aim of 'getting onto page 1 of Google' is now transferring to the app store rankings. It's very similar to desktop search in theory, with an expectation on apps at the top having an element of social proof; consumers are downloading apps because they assume they're ranked highly through merit. A minority of us ever delve beyond that first page on Google, which is progressively becoming the case in the app stores too.
So yes, it does look as though we will become less reliant on traditional Google search as the seismic shift towards mobile continues. Nevertheless, where interest in desktop search begins to decline, that interest will relocate to the app stores. Additionally, Google has a trump card in YouTube. It's by far the most popular video sharing site in the world, and with video being one of the hottest topics in mobile, YouTube is certain to see increases in paid advertising across smartphones and tablets.