Falling behind: Google's share of the mobile search market is set to drop. Photo: Bloomberg
Google's leadership in mobile search is under pressure as smartphone and tablet users look for information from applications rather than from their browser query bar.
By 2016, Google's share of the US market should fall to 64 percent from 83 percent in 2012, according to a new report by EMarketer. Meanwhile Yelp, whose popular application helps users find ratings and information on local restaurants and dry cleaners, will grow to 1.9 percent from 0.5 percent.
"Even though browser-based search is a common behavior among mobile owners, search engines are not necessarily the first place smartphone and tablet users turn," Cathy Boyle, an an analyst at EMarketer, said in the report. "The explosion of mobile app development and usage means mobile users have more — and more specialized — alternatives for finding information."
Other search products are growing as well. A category including direct Google rivals such as Microsoft's Bing, as well as applications tailored to more specific industries, such as e-commerce giant Amazon, travel-focused Kayak and job-hunting service Indeed, will have 30 percent of the market by 2016, up from 5.4 percent, according to the report.
While Google has its own phone and tablet search application, it gets much of its traffic through small query boxes that appear at the top of browsers as users surf the Web. The company has the default search engine on Apple's iPhone and on many devices made by partners, including Samsung, that use Google's Android operating system.
Google is providing a new feature on its search ads that brings consumers directly to an application from a mobile query- results page — instead of staying within a Web browser. So, a user looking for a hotel in San Francisco, for example, could go immediately to the specific page inside the installed HotelTonight application.
Meanwhile Apple recently announced its upcoming software for iPhones and iPads — iOS 8 — will use Microsoft's Bing service rather than google for its embedded 'spotlight' searches.