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.
Everyone realizes that the opportunity for the mobile Web is huge. Google has been betting big on mobile, but thanks to the excessively fragmented nature of the mobile Web, creating usable mobile search is very challenging. Google has been working on its mobile products for years now and it's still missing launch dates and struggling to make this work.
Let me make it clear: Google is having a hard time with the mobile Web. If that doesn't tell you something, then I don't know what will.
Last month I blogged about mobile SEO. I suspect that many of the same challenges that impact mobile SEO also hinder Google's efforts to build a more comprehensive mobile search tool:
A number of themes emerged during the discussion. The first is that the mobile Web simply is not well linked. Unlike the desktop Web, most mobile sites still don't link out to other mobile or desktop Web sites. As a result, it's very difficult for search engines to find many mobile sites, much less index them. It's also very hard for users to find other mobile sites, either through search or from the mobile sites they're exploring.
The mobile Web is balkanized. Google's entire online model isn't designed to deal with a Web that doesn't link. Part of the problem here is the carriers (and their walled gardens), but the larger problem is that the mobile Web is still a bolt-on to the desktop Web and not the driving force of the entire Web.
There is bigger unanswered question too. Will the mobile Web develop in the same way as the desktop Web? What if the mobile Web is not defined by links? How does Google play in that kind of Web?
What do you think? Will Google figure out how to make the mobile Web work? Or is this an open opportunity for other Web companies?