Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Playing with Pictures

There’s a good chance Amazon.com is sick and tired of me. Ever since the company launched its new application for the Apple iPhone and iPod touch earlier this month, I’ve been taking full advantage of its new photo-identification tool—mostly to prove that it’s not always accurate. But so far, it’s only proven me wrong.

Launched earlier this month, the application offers an easy way for users to search and browse for products offered by Amazon and thousands of retailers, such as Target and Macy's. However, what gives these retailers a run for their money is the “Amazon Remembers” function. After downloading the app, consumers can snap photos of any image they want. Then, they can send Amazon the image by automatically uploading it onto the site. Minutes later, Amazon sends back a list of products similar to the photograph.

Users can then click on the products they want, and have immediate access to ratings and reviews, a product-comparison tool, and the “Buy Now” button. Consumers can also "remember it" for later in their Amazon account.

The cutting-edge concept is certainly ahead of its time. Consumers may not be ready to make purchases on their phones just yet, but Amazon.com is ready when they are.

Like all first-generation technology, there are still some kinks that need to be worked out. Amazon.com may have the art of reading titles down, but it still has some work to do on deciphering unbranded objects. It will promptly identify a DVD or book, but sometimes struggles with untitled items. Upon this rare occasion, Amazon.com notifies you that it was unable to locate the product.

I came to this conclusion after snapping pictures of virtually everything I could think of—this is why Amazon must be so over seeing images sent from my iPhone account.

However, its speed and accuracy are usually astounding. Regardless of its small quirks, retailers need to keep an eye on Amazon.com. It already dominates the online world, and if its Apple app is any indication, it’s almost ready to take over the m-commerce field too.

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