A Lesson from Google Goggles

A few days ago, Google formally announced Google Goggles and today, I saw a magazine advertisement for T-Mobile’s G2 mobile phone, which featured Google’s latest utility.

While not a true 2D barcode, Google Goggles works on the same premise as 2D in that a consumer scans an object in the physical world and instantly they are transported via a smartphone to the digital world. Not to get bogged down in a debate on the advantages/disadvantages, pros or cons of visual/ image recognition and what it might spell for 2D in the future, I really wanted to call attention to the way in which Google describes and instructs readers of the ad to make use of the utility.

At the bottom of the ad is a Google Goggle’s logo and copy, which says, “This ad is Goggle Goggles enabled. Take a photo of this ad with Google Goggles on Android to explore its interactive features. Be sure to photograph the entire ad.” Lengthy, perhaps a little, but very complete and very direct. 2D barcode advertisers should pay heed to what Google has done here, as I believe it would help tremendously with 1) increasing scan rates and 2) raising the consumer comfort level and adoption of 2D technology.

As an aside, what I did not like about the Goggles experience is that once the ad was scanned, I was brought to a Google search results page and, from that page, I had to select the page to go to next. This next page was actually the T-Mobile G2 product page where I could learn more about the product and even purchase the phone. Overall, not an ideal experience in that there were too many steps to take.


13 thoughts on “A Lesson from Google Goggles

  1. About two weeks ago, on the Goggles Blog, they hinted at a “future” without the need for QR codes.

    Fast forward 14 days.

    Let's think about how Mobile OS and QR/2D/Image Recognition will possibly shape up?

    Smartphones (50%+ of total)

    1. Android/Goggles @ 40% (within 6 mo)
    2. Windows/Mobile/MS Tag @ 20% (within 18 mo)
    3. Symbian/RIM/Apple @ 40% with QR

    Let's presume that all of the above will have server side resolve via MMS with some downgraded version for older phones; meaning little or no need for “non reader codes.” Plus, with Android devices being sold for $50, the Age of the dumb phone is down to months at this point.

    Now, think about QR and it's fracturing, where some emerging QR codes require proprietary reader/apps and/or the disconnect between various generators and readers continues leaving frustrated users.

    Imagine no one with an Android or Windows/Mobile (60% of market share) care about QR in less than 2-years (because, QR companies fractured the market) and every ad is enabled for Goggles, MS Tag and QR.

    If image detection and resolve to mobile breaks along the lines of mobile OS, this scenario could play out. Unless, within 6 months, QR/2D companies (today) begin to think Bigger.

    Never mind, Goggles can port to other OS and not be native; just as MS Tag ports to all OS — So, Goggles on an iPhone or Blackberry will happen. If today's QR/2D companies want to survive and flourish they'll need to offer a lot more than analytics and free generators, they'll need to get into the business of delivering end to end mobile experiences.

    It will be interesting to look back in 18 months and see what transpired and who's left standing.

  2. Anonymous: Interesting perspective. My take…you can slice and dice the market any which way numbers and or vendor wise, at the end of the day it's all about the offer, call to action, value-add, relevance, benefit, enhanced experience, etc. that a company can provide and deliver on to a consumer. Of course, the platform that a company uses will play a big role and possibly dictate how a campaign gets developed and produced from a strategic/creative perspective, but for now, just let's get some solid campaigns on the map and show consumers that these technologies work and can support their want, need and interest to engage and interact…with the brand and socially.

    That all aside, and more to your point, yes, it will be interesting to look back and see how the provider marketplace and technology have evolved and who is left standing.

  3. Google goggles may appear to be a great user experince once (if) it works well, but has, I believe, even more problems when it comes to user experience and information presentation. What if you scan only half the add?, or a part of the add next door is in image? What happens then?. And it only works with a “google enabled add campaigns?”. At least in Europe we see the trend with QR codes as being an open and free to use and implement system, as well as offered as a value added service without needing propriatary scanners to work.
    Best yet, the people choose what, how, when and if they use 2D codes and can have total control over what and how it does what it does.
    I don't see any of this freedom with goggles.

    Google goggles appears to be nothing more than just another prorietry scanning technology probably limited to those who can afford to implement (influence) it for their benefit.

    it is a 'picture based search engine interface' no more and no less, so if you cannot type on a keyboard, take a picture of it.

    It is created by, managed by, exploited by….Google, not public domain and very proprietry.

    2D codes (QR codes) are public domain and free to use and implement as any individual needs. Big difference!

    In Europe (besides France;) we avoid proprietary readers “the walled gardens”, and we see that most propriatary mobile scanners announce they will or allready do support reading QR codes.

    Both systems have their merits, but one is not a replacement of the other.

    If I had a choice I would vote for RFID as the next best thing to QR codes 😉

  4. Hi Anonymous,

    I always enjoy your comments to Roger's analysis. You knowledge and commentary of 2D and other emerging marketing tools is awesome.

    While I don't always agree with your conclusions, I enjoy hearing your “why” …

    Scanning codes are just talking off in the U.S. and you have already moved on to RFID!

    Thoughts on QR or RFID meets Augmented Reality?

    Perhaps one of these days, you'll share your identify with us.


  5. Can't comment about Google Goggles since I don't own an Android mobile phone. But, my recent experience with a Nokia underscores the major hurdle towards broadbased adoption of QR: After hours of trying to install three different QR Readers – all of whose documentation confirmed that my model of mobile phone was supported by them – I had to give up in frustration.

  6. @anonymous (Europe) – while open source is wonderful, there are times that the love for it blinds people to the value offered by proprietary systems.

    For end users/customers, frankly, they don't care.

    Part of the problem with open source QR (I know, I know, this isn't what this discussion post is about) is that it can lead to fragmentation and less standardization. Apple versus Android is a classic example of this right now. Two camps, each with their own logic and preference – Each with their own fans. The fragmentation within Android, between OS versions and the layers on top that Carriers impose is problematic for both developers and the public.

    Yet, the Apple dictate of the iPhone offering consistent user experiences vis a vis a proprietary system rarely gets much flack? Even Developers (generally) like it.

    Microsoft Tag is an example of a successful proprietary system. Google's Goggles may wind up in the same category. Except, Goggles has much broader uses as well, because it can be used outside of marketing. Therefore it has a potentially broader appeal. Whether it's ever developed for commercial use, who knows?

    Ultimately, everyone is dealing with the same basic issue: Get uses from IRL (in real life) to mobile.

    Making this easy, convenient and then paying off the effort with great content is the challenge.

    I just don't think this is going to come down to open versus proprietary when it comes to who's going to get the largest market share. More likely, that will be decided by who offers the most seamless, cohesive end to end experience?

  7. M. Chacon: Thank you for the comment. I agree that much of this will boil down to who offers the most value and best experience, and the onus really fall on the brand/company, less so with the code provider.

  8. I happened to spot the same ad, well a bit late. Am sure Goggles was buggy before, I guess now it's running a lot better. User experience also improved a lot.

    To me I admire the technology that brings user from offline to online. This is very important as new media will be replacing old media, ironic enough, you still need your old media to promote your new media huh!

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