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May 21, 2008

There’s more to find than the web

ESPOO, Finland – When it comes to search, the likes of Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! are friends, not foe, of Nokia. The services complement what Nokia offers, rather than competes against it. Not because Nokia doesn’t think finding stuff is important, but because what and how you find using your Nokia is totally different. recently caught up with Nokia’s head of search Jussi-Pekka Partanen who talked openly about this and other search related issues. It’s well worth a read, and we’ve picked out a few of the choice bits here.

Location-based search is a key thing for Partanen. He sees searching on your PC as “looking at the past, or the future” whereas on your mobile you’re “standing in the middle of something and you want to have immediate access to something that….you need at that point in time in that location”. And I have to say I agree, largely. Sure, there are times when I’m searching on my phone but not looking for something near me and for that there is Google, or Yahoo!. What Partanen is talking about is how your device can be much smarter in its results findings, using on-board technology (such as GPS) to make the results relevant to your location.

We did a piece a while back on some research being done right now which uses your camera to seek out information on things that you can see. That’s as good an example as any of how search on your phone can be completely different.

I recently upgraded the firmware on my N95 and I’m now playing with the new version of search, which is pretty amazing. It filters and sorts your results depending on what they are – calendar items, emails, text messages, contacts or whatever. It’s a huge leap forward for on device search. It really is as I’d want it to be and I struggle to think how they could make it better. But Partanen has designs on that too.

He wants to go beyond the device and enable it to seek out content in other parts of your home, turning it into “your remote control to the important information or media in your life”. That’s a pretty ambitious task and one I’m personally not so sure about, but keen to see the results all the same. It’s certainly very intriguing as a concept. Imagine, for example being able to search all your Wireless-enabled devices in your house, directly from your phone. How? That’s the bigger question.

So, even though we’ve seen big improvements in search on your mobile, it really is only the beginning. I’m pretty excited about what might be coming next, how about you?