Complex Made Simple

One giant tech company has just concluded its ‘search’ for a competitive edge

Tech companies have had a rough biannual start, with investigations over data concerns then stocks dipping and a few lawsuits between companies.

It would be an understatement to say that tech companies just had a “rough” year.

For the last ten years, many tech companies have allegedly imitated Apple’s design and business platforms. The latest was an Apple lawsuit against Samsung, thus winning $539 million, according to The Verge. Now, a major company is going after Alphabet, seeking to replace the Google engine platform with a better alternative.

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Microsoft is searching for an answer

First, we witnessed Facebook’s IGTV, a mobile-only video playback service on Instagram imitating YouTube. Now, Microsoft is mimicking Google Lens, an image processing search tool that can detect, search and find specific objects by pointing the camera at real objects.

Google Lens is not sophisticated since Google approaches innovations by first testing the product then asking its consumers for feedback.

Microsoft goes full blast with its newest innovation and has released something interesting that will compete with dominant market player Google.

Cue the lights and hear the audience clap for the newly announced Visual Search Tool for Bing.

Last week, Microsoft launched a new intelligent Visual Search Tool for Bing — Microsoft’s search engine — that allows users to search the mobile web by uploading an image or taking a photo with their phone camera.

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(Courtesy of BI Intelligence)

Good for business

Bing Image search could be a good business tool.

For example, taking a photo of a flower will not only identify its type but will also suggest where the nearest florist is. Visual Search is available in a range of apps, including the standalone Bing app on iOS and Android as well as Microsoft’s web browsing apps for Android — Launcher, and Edge.

Microsoft has joined the growing number of companies that are turning the smartphone camera into a discovery tool.

According to Business Insider, Pinterest, Google and Amazon have all rolled out visual search products within the past two years, for example.

Moreover, retail brands, such as Sephora, Asos and Akira, have also integrated the tech into their smartphone apps to increase customer engagement and help drive conversions, according to a case study by visual search company Markable.

“Within two months of implementing a visual search feature into its site, 45% of Akira’s customers had used the feature,” Markable added.

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For now, the technology is somewhat limited. However, it has a vast potential to transform the way consumers engage with brands and provide greater insight into consumer behavior, according to BI:

1-   Retailers can increase the accuracy of their product search and boost cross-sell opportunities: Visual search can help retail customers clarify ambiguities that occur when they attempt to describe objects and colors in text-based searches. For example, a consumer may see someone wearing a black hat that he or she might like to buy. Text search would return thousands of black hats, making it difficult for the consumer to find the hat they want.

2-  Publishers can increase consumer engagement with their content: Media and magazine companies can use visual search to bridge the gap between printed pages and the real world. For instance, looking at a printed ad through the phone could turn the ad into an interactive video.

3-  Moreover, as consumers become more accustomed to using the smartphone camera as a search tool, it will find additional use cases in healthcare, government, transport and logistics, banking and insurance.