We Use Mobile Phones A Lot At Home, Per Google Mobile Search Data

Of course it’s a bit self-serving, but Google recently released data on mobile search. One conclusion is intriguing: most mobile phone searches happen while we are in our homes. Not on-the-go. Not at work. In our homes.

Is this because the phone is in our hands and we are looking to go “out” for dinner, for example? Is it because we’re watching TV and want to know more info about an actor or director? Is it because we are bored? (All of the above.)

But that slide (at the bottom) hides just how much we use our mobile phones at home, according to the report appendices:

  • Arts and entertainment searches: 70%
  • Food searches: 71%
  • Restaurant searches: 56%
  • Shopping searches: 69%
  • Technology searches: 70%
  • Travel searches: 60%
Google Mobile Research
Google search data per report appendix.

But these data just don’t jibe with the indices that show context of use.

How can food searches, for example, occur at home 71% of the time when the index shows most occur in-store?

Google research mobile search
Mobile search context. Q: Where are you? What category of information did you search for? N=6,303

I also disagree with one of Google’s interpretations: I don’t think mobile search is the “trigger” for additional action.

I believe mobile search follows a decision (the true trigger) to “do something.” It contributes to what that “do something” might be, but I don’t believe the sequence is “a random search on my phone” -> “let’s do something because the phone coughed it up” — which is how I define the verb “trigger.”

The data come from 6000+ mobile phone searches made by 416 participants (who kept a mobile search diary over a two-week period) + additional questions + 323 exit surveys. (Data from 70 tablet owners were not included in the results.) Average searches per day: 1.25. I’m clearly not an average consumer: at Barnes and Noble today I initiated three separate product searches using Google/Safari.


Download the PDF of the study.

Updated to clarify that the report reflects mobile  phone search and to highlight the disconnect between data in the report and data in the appendix.


google mobile search


By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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