Two of our favourite iPhone applications are “Shazam” and “SnapTell.” One records a few seconds of a song to identify it, and the other takes a picture of a book or CD cover, figures out what it is and links to Wikipedia entries and shopping options.
Now Amazon (AMZN) is getting in the iPhone-product-identification game: The new “Amazon Mobile” app lets you take pictures of products, and Amazon tasks low-wage workers (via the Mechanical Turk program) to match the image to a product.
It’s a great idea, but far too slow. We used Amazon Mobile to snap a pic of a book lying around the office, and it took about 40 minutes to get a response. When we tried the same book on SnapTell, the results were instantaneous.
The inability to turn product recognition into impulse buys will put a damper on how many new sales the iPhone app can bring in.
But that shouldn’t last. Whether Amazon has to develop a good instant product-recognition program in-house, or buy SnapTell’s (or a similar service’s) technology on the market, we don’t think it will take Amazon too long to bring its iPhone application up to speed.
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