In my last post I outlined the process I endured to find a Starbucks in the 80124 area code. Later on I went back and test drove the same request using the desktop. It was actually much easier. Why? Well for one, Google defaulted to “local search” with the first answer. So naturally I clicked on that link and it showed me the location of the Starbucks and asked me if I wanted driving directions. It would have been easy to simply type in my current address and Google would have completed the transaction for me. Easy on the desktop, virtually impossible on my mobile device, especially if I’d been driving.
So why the difference on mobile? Well for one there is no such thing as “auto-complete-this form”. Google sees the request come in from a PDA and then things change in a hurry, and not for the best. So I thought I would try the same thing with Microsoft’s Live search. It was a similar experience with one exception. Microsoft asked me to log in with my Passport account (all my personal data is held on their servers) so they could personalize the experience. Ah, someone’s thinking about my experience on the Internet. This is good.
So back to the title of the post – where’s Google’s, Yahoo’s, AOL’s, Ask’s passport? There isn’t one. Why not? The whole goal here is to reduce the friction in the transaction. If I can take six steps down to one that’s a tremendous savings. If I can know where the person is currently then I can deliver more relevant results. More relevance means more revenue for the search engines.
Remember the desktop is fixed, the mobile device is by definition mobile. Search engines need to adjust to that mobility. The passport function simply allows me to share information that I want to as opposed to having it stored on the server. This way I get to opt-in or out as I chose. With Microsoft passport the only option is to simply not log in, and then you lose the whole idea behind personalizing the experience.
So where do I download the search engines passport that allows me to enter my data and then control what the web gets to know about me?