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Google Reinvents Search For Mobile Era

Search is moving beyond keywords and desktop interaction into the wider world.

Google Goggles, with a picture, can do that for a limit set of objects: landmarks, many works of art, and products. It can even read bar codes, a capability likely to disrupt the market for bar code reading apps in the same way that Google's turn-by-turn direction capabilities in Android are disrupting the GPS device market.

But even more remarkable is the promise of nearly instant voice translation via mobile devices, a capability Gundotra calls "a UN interpreter for everyone." It's not hard to imagine that the provider such a service, in conjunction with location technology, could have a significant impact on where travelers decide to eat, shop, and sleep.

Mark Simon, VP of industry relations at digital ad agency Didit, observes that the advent of new forms of search such as Google Goggles means that marketers have to think beyond interacting with text.

'Marketers began to feel the need to incorporate new touchpoints and integrate many marketing channels with each other in 2009; but such strategies will become live-or-die marketing issues in 2010," he said in an e-mail. "Now, every interaction with the world is an online interaction, and an interaction that relates back to search. Marketers really need to tie each of their touchpoints back to search in more ways, and more creative ways, than ever before."

QR codes, which function similarly to bar codes, may be an example of just such a touchpoint. In a separate but related location-based search announcement, Google on Monday said that it had begun sending QR code window stickers to over 100,000 businesses designated as "Favorite Places on Google".

When photographed with selected mobile devices, including iPhone, Android-powered phones, BlackBerry and others, software turns the sticker images into URLs that direct the user to the appropriate Google Maps Place Page. Businesses can use Place Pages to provide information, reviews, or even discount coupons.

"We really do get the sense that we are just now beginning to sense the possibilities," said Gundotra.

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