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Many Google sites still not very mobile friendly

August 18, 2010 |  7:11 am

Eric-schmidt-android Google has quickly become a leader in the mobile industry, but about a dozen of its own products still haven't followed that lead.

The Google.com search page, Gmail client and YouTube are among the most-used websites by smart phone owners.

Beyond those, Google offers mobile-optimized pages for news, instant messaging, language translation, shopping, calendars and others. Google has even made a play for on-the-go social networking with its Buzz and Latitude products.

Yet, many of the Mountain View, Calif., company's products still aren't phone-friendly.

Blogger, the giant blogging platform, has a mobile offering that caters to phones -- as in the flip, not-smart variety. Blogger Mobile is a text-and-links landing page that teaches users how to use text messaging to submit posts or e-mail photos. Trying to post the old-fashioned way from your phone isn't ideal.

Picasa Web Albums has a mobile site, but users of smart phones not running Google's Android system have no easy way to upload photos to it. There's a setting that's turned off by default that lets you post pictures via e-mail.

You can't edit Google Docs files from a phone. Ditto for iPad users.

The Internet giant's two popular administrative tools for stat-hungry website owners -- Google Analytics and FeedBurner -- lack mobile versions.

Thanks to the acquisition of AdMob, Google is a major player in the mobile ad business. But it wasn't until March that Google launched a phone-friendly version of AdWords, the advertising platform that accounts for, along with AdSense, an estimated 91% of Google's overall revenue.

Google Profiles, Sites, Alerts, Dictionary, Groups, Knol and Scholar present only desktop-optimized layouts.

The friend-powered question-and-answer service, Aardvark, has an iPhone app that hasn't been updated since April and doesn't take advantage of Apple's newer software features. There's no Android version whatsoever.

And Picnik, the Web-based image editor, doesn't work at all on most smart phone browsers because it was built using Adobe's Flash. It even struggles on newer Androids.

In all fairness, neither Apple nor Research in Motion nor Palm have mobile versions of their sites. (But Microsoft does.) In fact, the find-as-you-type search feature on Apple.com is disabled when browsing from a phone.

Google has invested a great deal of effort into some of its mobile websites. YouTube.com was recently overhauled for smart phone users, even though YouTube apps already ship with many phones.

The company didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on this report. Google has said in the past that it often prefers websites to apps. Unlike with apps, Web developers can update a site at any time, without requiring the user to install a new version.

So you never know when a new, vastly improved mobile site from Google (or a competitor) will pop up.

-- Mark Milian
twitter.com/markmilian

Photo: Google CEO Eric Schmidt holds an Android phone during a news conference at the annual Allen & Co. media summit in Sun Valley, Idaho, last month. Credit: Associated Press

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