Google Inc. is developing a new search service for cellphones that will help consumers find and buy ring tones, games and other mobile content as the Internet company pushes more deeply into wireless, people familiar with the matter say.
With the new system, users would search for a piece of content — say, a U2 ringtone — and get back a list of providers as well as links enabling them to easily purchase the material. Eventually, Google would charge companies for high placement in the search results, much the way it offers “sponsored links” on computer Web searches, the people familiar with the plans say.
The company has been working for months with content providers — including large entertainment companies and smaller mobile-media aggregators — to index their material and make it available via mobile search. But the project has been marred by a series of technical delays, people familiar with the matter say, illustrating that there’s a learning curve as Internet giants adjust to the peculiarities of the mobile world. It isn’t clear how soon Google plans to launch the service.
Overall, the service would work much like the Google Product Search service, formerly known as Froogle, people familiar with the situation say. A spokeswoman for Google declines to comment.
Though mobile content is still a small market, it is growing quickly. Global sales of music, video, ringtones and other content reached $27.4 billion last year, and they are expected to grow to $59.3 billion by 2011, according to the technology-research and consulting firm Yankee Group.
Google’s mobile search isn’t promoted by carriers, but consumers are beginning to discover it. Google has a separate search service that lets users send a text message to “googl,” or 46645, to look up a local business.