Google may be waging an ongoing battle against its competitors to keep smartphone owners using the web, but recent evidence suggests it's making progress. Google's Amit Singhal, senior vice president of search, said today Google now sees more than half of its 100 billion monthly searches occurring on mobile devices. Singhal, who's speaking at Recode's Code Mobile conference in Half Moon Bay, California, defined mobile as devices with screens smaller than six inches.
"For the first time, we’re getting more searches on mobile devices than on desktop," Singhal said. The metric is significant because Google has been facing off against Facebook and Apple in a power grab for internet browsing habits. Google bakes search, which helps generate a majority of its ad revenue, into nearly every Android handset sold around the globe, making it a backbone of the mobile ecosystem. Yet Facebook has increasingly been tailoring its mobile app, which it's built into its own ad-supported money-making machine, as a one-stop shop for all your web needs. There's no reason to use Google search if Facebook can surface everything you're looking for via algorithms.
Google is fighting to keep its share of our browsing habits
Apple, on the other hand, would love if people used apps for a simpler reason. It scoops up 30 percent of all revenue generated on iOS, and app usage benefits Apple's own in-app advertising service. The company's iOS 9 software includes a controversial third-party ad blocking feature that effectively shuts off mobile web advertising on iPhones and iPads when using Safari. With a new ad blocker approved this week, you can even block ads when you're using apps.