Wednesday, October 25, 2006

"The Island" & Future of Search Engine As Physical Search Kiosks

I recently watched The Island - and since I have HBO, it's been repeating frequently. A scene caught my attention that made me wonder about the future.

The scene is when the two main characters, on the run from their pursuers, are at an "information directory". In the movie, it's a glorified phone booth. But on the side it said "MSN Search".

This got me thinking - how close are we to seeing something like that?

Imagine, an information kiosk that is a phone booth, a search engine/local directory booth, and mobile information/search interface - branded by a major search engine.

So in other words, this booth would have a public phone, an online search that serves up local directory information, and a mobile interface so that anyone with a mobile phone can download content pertinent to the local area.

Picture this: Google builds a phone-search directory booth in NYC. It has a phone and online touch screen. The keyboard is a touch screen for easy typing. The head up screen is a touch screen.

Someone looking for directory information searches this online directory, get's served results along with ads. In fact ads can be displayed throughout the interior of the booth. The searcher can make the calls in the phone booth.

But, Google pushes the features more and lets mobile phone users use the booth as a local search directory - and 1 quick click lets the mobile user download the directory listing onto their cell or PDA. This is already being done in Yahoo Local's results where you can actually send information to your cell.

The funny thing is, this reality is not far away.

The engines simply need to find a way where they can set up the physical infrastructure. They already can make alliances with Yellow Book, Yellow Pages, SuperPages, and more. They can already make alliances with celluar providers to provide mobile phone support.

The only question is the physical structure, how to work with utilities and the complexities involved there, and how to build the infrastructure to connect each booth online.

I think everything can be tested out in one place: the Airport!

The airport is the perfect place to build this pilot program. Airport travellers are going to want information quickly and are more likely to have the latest mobile gadgets with them (PDAs, cell phones, iPods, laptops, smartphones, etc.).

Once these tests are concluded - it's a matter of time before we see every city corner with a branded Google Kiosk, Yahoo! Kiosk, MSN Search Kiosk, and more.

A Brave New World!


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