Google Adds Visual Tool to Ease Mobile Search

But will it help find more revenue in mobile ads?

Back in 2008, Google noticed a huge volume of web searches being done on smart phones. But with tiny screens, even tinier keypads, and slow page loading, the conditions for Googling were less than ideal. So the company launched a project called Grand Prix in an effort to develop new ways of searching.

Goggles, a visual search tool, allows customers to snap a picture of something and search for it using Google’s visual recognition technology. Google voice search recognizes speech to answer complicated questions, and can even understand a variety of dialects.

Google has also explored a number of new ways to take advantage of advertising, like allowing users to call business, get coupons, or pull up movie trailers from within mobile ads.

But according to the New York Times, some analysts still say that Google isn’t creating new mobile products or ads quickly enough. “They’ve done a really good job of positioning themselves so they can’t get boxed out of the market,” said Colin W. Gillis of BGC Partners. “Now they just need to deliver some innovation. Let’s wring some revenue out of this platform.” Mobile ads sell for about half of what web ads pull in, so “there’s just not a lot of profit left over,” Gillis said.

If mobile search expands as fast as some at Google think it will, the company will have to keep mobile development at a pace as fast—or faster—than web development. “Mobile search is definitely going to surpass desktop search,” said Google employee Scott B. Huffman, who heads the search evaluation team. “The lines will pass, and I think they’ll pass before anyone thought they would.”