Mobile search: The paradigm is shifting beneath our feet

Posted on March 6, 2012 8:58 am by | Mobile | Web

Paradigm shift is one of those phrases so embraced by business that it eventually lost all meaning, ultimately becoming just another option on a Bullshit Bingo player card. Like most corporate jargon, though, it had its origins in a valid concept. A paradigm shift is a change in fundamental assumptions shared by the members of a community.

Watchmaking is the classic example of a paradigm shift. For decades, the Swiss dominated the field; with 65% of the world watch market and an unsurpassed reputation, the Swiss stood alone at the pinnacle of the field. With the advent of the digital watch, however, the Swiss saw its market share plummet from 65% to less than 10%. Out of 62,000 Swiss watchmakers, 50,000 found themselves out of work.

The fact that the Swiss still made the finest watches with the best precision and most accurate mechanisms became meaningless. “All the advantages they had accrued in the old paradigm were worthless in the new,” according to futurist Joel Barker, an observer of paradigm shifts.

One characteristic of a paradigm shift is those in the middle of it are often unable to see it happening. That may well be true of a currently shifting paradigm. The community’s assumption of the old paradigm: The web is the web, whether it’s on a 29-inch monitor or a smartphone. Your choices are to develop a discrete native app or optimize content in order to fit the smaller footprint of mobile devices.

Under this paradigm, Google has been the Swiss watchmaker of search, whether it’s on a desktop computer or a mobile device. But a mobile Google search is the same on a phone as it is on a laptop, delivering a search engine results page made up of hyperlinks. The new paradigm to which we are headed is one in which we recognize that a phone is so different from a tethered computer than the whole notion of search and discovery will change based on those differences, which have as much to do with user intent as they do with form factor.

The Everything ProjectThese were my thoughts as I kicked the tires on, a mobile search utility that may well be the vanguard of this transition; it’s the Japanese digital watch paradigm of mobile search.’s focus is not on web-wide search results, but specifically on the mobile-wide web results that make far more sense for somebody searching for content on their phone. is the work of DoAT, which first unveiled the utility as part of what it calls The Everything Project back in May 2011 at TechCrunch Disrupt. A lot of work has gone into it since then, leading the company to open a public beta last month.

All of occurs within your mobile browser (it’s easily saved to your bookmarks). It opens with a set of rotating images that designate current trending topics along with local and weather resources. Tap one of these to be taken to a familiar-looking screen of app icons, although these are web apps, not native apps—or what DoAT calls “Instant Apps.” They open the relevant results on the HTML5 mobile site offered by each service. Here’s a quick walk-through:

A search of “everything” not only generates a screen of web apps with the relevant search already conducted, but with a relevant image serving as wallpaper to indicate that pulled up the right results.

DoAT is inviting publishers who have “spent time building elegant and powerful solutions that answer your consumers’ needs” to submit their sites to be added to the suite of results delivers.

The benefits of over Google should be obvious: fast results of just what you’re looking for when you’re out and about with no linking to standard web pages. This new paradigm, then, is one in which mobile search produces mobile results instead of just duplicating the computer-centric web on a mobile device. As more and more computing migrates to mobile devices, you can imagine this kind of search displacing Google and whittling away at its dominant search position.

For marketers and communicators, the implications should be clear. Even as we’re in the midst of the shift that may not be evident to most people, those who undertake the development of a mobile strategy that recognizes the shift will win as users transition to this more logical, common-sense approach to finding stuff on their phones.

You can see a video of Cathy Brooks, head of Communications and Social Strategy for The Everything Project (and host of the podcast, Social Media Hour, discussing and demonstrating at CES this past January. I’ve shot my own video of a brief tour of the utility:

Also, be sure to read Sarah Perez’s take on The Everything Project on TechCrunch.

The Everything Project has established fairly vibrant communities on Facebook and Google+, and maintains an active Twitter stream.

Can’t you just feel the paradigm shifting beneath your feet?



  • 1.What an awesome perspective, Shel. Thank you! Thrilled that you are liking the beta and look forward to hearing your input on how we can continue to make it better. We are so committed to Everything that we have even formally changed our company name and are no longer DoAT! The company is now The Everything Project (formally) and Everything.Me is our flagship!

    Cathy Brooks | March 2012 | San Francisco, CA

  • 2.While it doesn't contradict your conclusion "Everything Me" should be renamed "Everything American". In Sweden I couldn't get anything except Spotify to work. Yelp even refused to acknowledge the existence of my home city. These limitations aren't the fault of the Everything Project, but they show the slow speed with which many location-aware apps are embracing a global customer base.

    And who has time to go through these apps and authorize their location access and perhaps enter account and password details? Details you've probably already entered into each specific app. It felt like a lot of duplicated effort.

    Mark Finney | March 2012 | Lund, Sweden

  • 3.Hey Mark ... your point is well-taken and spot on ... Two things I'd like to emphasize for your consideration. First, this is a beta, and by its nature that means this is not yet a fully baked, complete product. We are rolling out in this nature precisely so that we can work with users and publishers to expand - both feature/capability-wise and geographically. The second and related point is that in the interest of rolling out properly we are focusing on one market at a time, and we have decided that our initial launch is a US focused one, with intent and timeline to expand internationally. As no doubt you know, doing a comprehensive global launch of a product is a challenge even for huge companies with massive resources ... for start-ups it's important to take one step at a time (even the big guys, when they first opened their doors, didn't launch new products in all markets right away!). As the results on EverythingMe are, by definition, local, this means ensuring pulling in the best publishers of local content market by market. There are some content publishers that have international reach, but especially for things like food etc... localized is important. I hope this explains things a bit, and if you would like to talk more specifically about your market and thoughts on how we might look to your market more effectively, feel free to email me directly .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

    Cathy Brooks | March 2012 | San Francisco, CA

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