According to Marissa Mayer, Google's VP of search products, the popular search engine's mobile applications have received an unexpected boost in traffic this summer.

Speaking at the Search Engine Strategies Conference in San Jose, CA, Mayer discussed how an increase in mobile application usage has effectively offset the expected drop in summer traffic.

A closing technology gap

Mayer explained that Google is "seeing more and more mobile activity. I think this is sort of a sign that people are becoming savvier with their mobile devices". Mayer also pointed out that much of the increase can be attributed to devices that are becoming more capable of handling mobile applications, indicating the possible impending close of the technology gap.

Much of the reason for the narrowing of the gap, according to Google at least, is due to the release of the iPhone. According to Mayer, the introduction of the Apple iPhone in June targeted more non-business consumers, effectively putting internet-capable phones into the hands of people who use Google's services more often.

Google reported that it saw a jump of 40 to 50 per cent in overall Google Maps usage immediately after the iPhone launch, which comes as no surprise given that the iPhone runs Google Maps natively.

Besides Google Maps, Mayer reported that the use of the company's mobile e-mail and mobile search were up well before the release of the iPhone. Amazingly, during the months of May and June, Google's mobile apps enjoyed a 35 per cent increase in overall US traffic.

Mobile is a money maker

While Japanese and European traffic figures were not divulged, Google did say that the traffic in these regions was up as well.

Although Google attributes much of this increase to other devices, part of Google's success over the summer is a direct result of its focus on the mobile platform. In March, Google made its mobile search page more user-friendly. In May, it added a mobile calendar application. With the release of the iPhone, the company made a search page designed specifically for the popular Apple device.

August numbers were not released, but Mayer assured the press that this month's traffic is surging as well, which could indicate a fast-paced fall for Google's mobile applications.