Mountain View, California based Google announced a new search tool aimed at mobile phone users earlier today. Services are currently limited to users in the United States and Canada.

The XHTML enabled Google Local will allow users with certain cellular phones to search for local businesses, get driving directions, and even download zoomable maps to help them get to where they are going. Cell phone users can also take advantage of SMS text messenging to send search queries via a text message and then receive search results like driving directions, movie times, business listings, weather reports and stock quotes in a return text message.

It's the XHTML offering that's marking a new direction in mobile search however. Google competitor Yahoo! already offers both XHTML enabled search and an SMS based service that allows users to send driving directions to their mobile phones, and Microsoft is no doubt preparing similar product launches for later this year. Google's attempt to reproduce a mobile search experience that accurately reflects the true offerings of the search engine gives them a bit of an edge over competitors. While XHTML based mobile devices are still not particularly common, the move could target early adopters and cause word of mouth advertising that will lead new users to the service as XHTML becomes more widespread with future phones.

Google's mobile Local Search works very similarly to the online version. Users are asked to enter a search term and a location and are given the option of searching, or getting driving directions. Search results feature a map of the results, though the mobile phone map isn't "dragable" in the way that the onlinel version is.

Screen shots of the service and a list of FAQ's are available at the Google Web site.

Access Google from your cell phone at:

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April 12, 2005

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.

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