Harris believes that Semantic Web technologies (which allow machines to process the meaning of information on the Web) could also streamline mobile search in the future. “As the Semantic Web builds up, [the software will] answer specific questions and pay attention to what the user is trying to do on the device,” he says.
But making cell phones smarter and more intuitive will require more processing power. Anand Chandrasekher, senior vice president and general manager of the ultra-mobility group at Intel, demonstrated the company’s latest low-power cell-phone chip–the Atom–at the conference. During a demonstration, Gunnar Evermann of speech-recognition company Nuance showed the company’s software running on a mobile device. He used composed and sent an e-mail employing only his voice.
Although many startups are working on improving interfaces and mobile services for search, experts warn that it could be hard to dislodge the giants. “People are looking for known brands on mobile devices,” says Christian Seider of IBM’s Institute for Business Value in the Electronics Industry. He thinks that many users will want to access the same Internet services that they get through their PC, so it could be hard–particularly for young companies–to find ways to make money off their technology.