“Things can be buried in menus, hard to find, hard to use — it’s one of our big challenges,” says Jim Ryan, vice president of consumer data services for Cingular, a joint venture of AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corp.
Search technologies hold great promise for improving the content-discovery process on cellphones. Already, consumers can find search bars from Google Inc., Yahoo Inc. and other companies to search the mobile Web. Users also can type in text messages to numbers operated by some major search engines to look up local information. For example, you can find the local weather report or a nearby pizza joint by texting a message to “GOOGL” — say, “weather” plus Brooklyn area code 11217 for conditions in the New York City borough. Some carriers also offer built-in search tools to mine their content offerings. Cingular, for example, lets users search downloadable content on its MediaNet platform through a service powered by InfoSpace Inc.