Earlier today I received an emailed press release from a company called SnapNow. They’re an American start-up with a very interesting take on mobile search. Whilst Google and the rest of the search giants look to provide results that are likely to be more relevant to someone using the web on their mobile , SnapNow have taken an entirely different route: their whole model is based around the fact that the user is on a mobile phone.
Let me explain.
You’re walking along and you notice a bill-board for thenew Incredible Hulk film. You haven’t read this excellent review in The Guardian or you’d realise that it’s probably about as enjoyable as root canal work without anesthetic, so you decide that you’d like to book tickets. Rather than log on to the web, going to Google, finding the nearest cinema showing the film and then calling them to see f there are any tickets, you simply take a photo of the billboard using your mobile (you obviously have to have a camera phone), send it to SnapNow and they do the rest.
Impressive eh? Before I say any more, have a look at this video they’ve produced to explain the product.
I have to say that for a company that has obviously spent so much on R&D, a few quid extra on that film wouldn’t have gone amiss; it’s possibly the cheesiest thing I’ve seen in ages.
Sean is into the new cool stuff . He snaps a photo of the iPhone…
Ow, that’s so bad it hurts. Anyway, it shouldn’t be about the advertising (but I’m shallow, so it kind of is).
Apparently SnapNow have done a deal with Haymarket’s Man Utd fanzine Inside United to allow readers to use the technology on the front cover. I’ve yet to buy a copy (apart from anything else, it pains me to buy anything Man Utd branded in case any money makes its way back to the Glazers) but I probably will, if only because I’m intrigued.
In many ways this feels like a natural evolution from QR codes. It does also feel like this is really nothing more than a sales tool, and is only likely to prove useful for transactional searches, as opposed to the informational & navigational ones that drive so many of the searches on ‘traditional’ engines (especially as it seems like you have to be a partner in order for SnapNow to work on your products). That’s not to say that it’s not interesting, but it does seem slightly limited in its applications.
I don’t think that SnapNow really is the future of mobile search, but it’s certainly an interesting sign-post to what might lie ahead.
Dislaimer: I first heard about SnapNow because my old boss works for them on a consultancy basis. He didn’t send me the press release and I don’t, and have never, worked for them in any way.
Mobile image by Milica Sekulic on flickr