You may be sick of hearing people with iPhones rave about how cool they are, and you're well within your rights to feel that way.
I'll confess something - I was too... until... that's right, I bought one myself recently.
I'm a frugal guy, but a long-time Apple fan, and honestly, I fought against the temptation to buy an iPhone from the moment I'd first heard about it. Nearly 2 years of delayed gratification is pretty good, right? Partly, because I still have a big ol' Newton sitting on my bookshelf, and I wasn't eager to be experimented on.
So, I cheated and waited, and bought an iPod Touch as an alternative. My thinking was that it was "just like" the iPhone, just without the monthly costs, and of course, no phone capability.
But also, as it turns out, the lack of "internet everywhere" - which is a MAJOR feature. So, that iPod mostly did "iPoddy things" for me (music, video, photos), and the occassional web surfing or e-mail reading/composing, but really, it was just an expensive, sexy iPod for me.
Switch to an iPhone, and the raw possibilities of "always on" has really opened my eyes. I'd had Blackberries and Treos in previous days, but never with "real" internet connectivity, purely e-mail.
To the point of the opening graphic...
If you've read my blog, listened to the podcasts (coming back with more soon, BTW), or talked to me, you'll know that I spend far too much time and money with Amazon. It might just get worse too.
See, Amazon has released an "app" for the iPhone that lets you take a picture with the (ahem, horrible) iPhone camera, and use THAT as a search against the Amazon catalog.
They call this "Amazon Remembers" - and it is very much experimental/beta, but definitely a working offering.
Follow the steps though, and while there is room for improvement, this is just one of those examples of how SOME companies actually get search and findability, and some are so far behind the curve, it's terribly embarrassing.
1. Take picture of a book, game, DVD, thing, or in this case, a tube of Pringles - Guacamole flavor.
(You're either throwing up right about now, or licking your lips, yes?)
2. The app sends the photo on over to Amazon and tells you "this might take a while, so we'll notify you when/if we've found something".
3. Gremlins do their magic - actually, some combination of automated image analysis/matching and people (ala their Mechanical Turk service) - and eventually return SOMETHING.
4. You get a notification - e-mail, on your iPhone, or in your personal Amazonian webpage with all Amazon Remembers items you might have.
5. Take a peek at what was matched - mix of success and failure. This would've been an opportunity for them to allow ME to correct the search results incidentally - wisdom of crowds, participation...
6. Out of curiousity, I wanted to see how tightly they were going to integrate this, and chose the "add picture" from within one of the "found items" pages. This brought me to their standard customer/product photo upload page, but (sigh) no sign that they realize that they HAVE a picture that I just sent them, and would be happy to associate with the product. Automatically pointing that out would've been even better, but to show my "remembered" picture within the interface, certainly not a difficult thing to accomplish. "It's all in there" after all.
But overall, I think we can all agree that this is a unique way to go about searching that enables me, at the least, to do one of those things that I've been using Amazon for for years anyway. They hold basically the entire list of everything I'm thinking of buying, borrowing, leasing, selling - and now, with 3 clicks on the iPhone, I can store that thought for later, and decide what I'm going to do with this information.
Search is not find, and is not whatever ultimate action you're trying to accomplish.
When you or your organization is building a website or application, ask yourself... What is OUR Information Architected for? Mobile searching? Finding and purchasing? Many paths to the end goal, but only if you CREATE them.
So tell me - what other scenarios have you seen along these lines? Non-traditional search, mobile search, etc.. Can be for the iPhone or anything else. Let's open up some eyes about the possibilities, and perhaps we can help people find their way just a bit better.