In the world of Internet start-ups, taking on Google's main business has been a fool's errand. The graveyard of failed search engines is long and deep, and while there are still challengers promising safer or more relevant results, Google's market share only goes in one direction: up.
But when it comes to mobile, the market is playing out very differently. At least that's the wager that youthful companies such as URX, Deeplink and Branch Metrics are making. They're all operating with a fairly simple thesis: search on mobile is kind of lame. Consumers on the move don't go to Google.com to type in queries, but instead open travel, shopping, music and news apps to find what they want.
Mobile users in the U.S. spend 86 percent of their time in apps and only 14 percent on the Web, according to mobile analytics company Flurry (now owned by Yahoo).
"The way that people find information on the phone is totally different," said John Milinovich, the co-founder and chief executive officer of URX, a 20-person company in San Francisco. "There are 30 different jumping-off points."