"Mobile search represents a utility for information anytime and anywhere," says senior analyst Jeff Orr in a prepared statement. "With a few keywords, one can quickly identify movie times, the discography of a musical artist, recommendations for a local eatery, and so much more."
I have to credit some of this growth to the adoption of smartphones and devices such as the iPhone, the BlackBerry Storm, and the HTC G1. Google's aggressive push into the mobile space also plays a large role. It has worked hard to provide search tools to many of the world's smartphone platforms, and powers search directly from the desktop of phones without the need to open a browser window first. Making search easier for users -- as Google has done -- will spur adoption. Yahoo and Microsoft also have played a role. Each has improved its mobile search tools in the last year, offering voice search and other services that cater to mobile phones.
The increase in mobile search goes hand-in-hand with the increase in the use of the mobile Web as a whole.
Opera Software's latest State of the Mobile Web report says that in January 2009, Opera Mini had more than 20.0 million users, a 12.1% increase from December 2008. Opera also notes that Opera Mini users viewed approximately 7.6 billion pages in January 2009. Since December, page views have gone up 18.3%.
Opera also has been pushing aggressively for new users, and updates its mobile offerings frequently. Opera is just one company reporting growth, but my guess is that if we poll other mobile Web providers, we'll see similar upward trends in usage.