It was probably inevitable, but now it’s official: Google searches via mobile devices are now more common than searches on desktop or laptop computers. There’s been talk that mobile search queries would overtake desktop queries sometime in 2015, and now it’s happened, according to Google.
The milestone was marked on Google’s blog on Tuesday, although it was buried in a post introducing a handful of new Google products.
"Billions of times per day, consumers turn to Google for I want-to-know, I want-to-go, I want-to-do, and I want-to-buy moments," wrote Jerry Dischler, vice president, Product Management for AdWords, Google’s online ad service. Google processes more than 100 billion search requests worldwide each month, including those made on PCs, according to the company.
"And at these times, consumers are increasingly picking up their smartphones for answers. In fact, more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the U.S. and Japan," he said. "This presents a tremendous opportunity for marketers to reach people throughout all the new touchpoints of a consumer’s path to purchase."
Dischler didn’t go into the identities of the other countries where mobile searches have taken the lead, when the switch took place, or what the respective percentages of PC and mobile search queries are now. One published report noted that for the purpose of those figures, mobile queries include mobile browser-based searches and those coming from Google’s mobile search apps.
We reached out to Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, who told us that this news might be more significant than Google is making it seem.
"I think this is a watershed moment," said Enderle. "People have their mobile devices on them all the time and are often both easier to access and easier to use than their PCs, (although) some of the latter will change with Windows 10. As a result they are now more likely to use a mobile device than a PC. The reason this didn’t happen faster is they were more used to using a PC, and we don’t break habits easily."
U.S. mobile queries on tablets and smartphones made for less than half of total search volumes, according to a report released earlier this year by comScore. That could mean the growth of mobile searches is accelerating greatly, or that Google and comScore are operating from different data sets, or neither.
The revelation about search ratios was tucked inside an announcement about new AdWords and Google Display Network tools. Among those were: AdWords attribution, which allows search marketers to move beyond a last-click attribution model and select a model for each conversion type; and cross-device conversions integrated with automated bidding, which lets marketers measure activities that start on one device and are completed on another.
"The smartphone is increasingly becoming our digital assistant and this search trend is a precursor to a future where many of us will likely depend on it exclusively," said Enderle.