Is Google Trying To Turn Image Search Into Pinterest?

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Google announced the you can now star and bookmark images on Google image search from your mobile browser. You can also keep them organized by folders.

From the sound of it, you can basically start using Google Image Search like you do Pinterest.

Do you think Pinterest users will use Pinterest less if they can do the same thing with Google? Let us know in the comments.

Google software engineer Diego Accame explains:

Let’s say you’re searching for “bob hairstyles” on Google and an image catches your eye. Simply select it and tap the star. Next time you’re at the stylist, you can easily access the picture without having to dig around or do another search.

Once you’ve starred a few images, you can keep them organized in folders: to add an image to a folder of similar items, tap the pencil shaped edit icon. Create a grouping such as “haircuts for the winter” or “snowman ideas” and your image will be added to a folder with similar ones.

Google of course doesn't make any Pinterest comparisons on its own, but the company appears to be well aware that Pinterest is encroaching on its turf. In addition to this offering, Google recently launched the Pinterest-like Collections feature for Google+, which with a new redesign is now one of its main features.

Meanwhile, Pinterest has been positioning itself as a search engine both to advertisers and consumers. While many think of Pinterest as a social network (and it is to some extent), it really wants to be viewed as a place for finding things, which puts it directly into competition with Google, particularly in the ecommerce arena.

The biggest threat to Google's dominance in search has always been more vertical-oriented services collectively, and Pinterest represents one part of that (as does Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, etc.). In other words, any searching happening somewhere besides Google.

The new Image Search feature might seem like a minor feature addition, but we're talking about a very heavily used product, and if it can steal even a little bit of Pinterest usage, then it's going to be more people to show Google ads to.

It does look like Pinterest's "buyable pins" have been somewhat underwhelming so far, especially for this time of year. One report recently indicated that one of the biggest launch partners was seeing less than 10 transactions a day with the feature. According to Jason Del Rey:

This source and another also said that Pinterest insiders have privately admitted to being disappointed with early sales numbers.

A Pinterest spokesman declined to comment on this information, but said the company is encouraged by at least one bright spot. “Although it’s still early days with the program, we are hearing from merchants that many of their customers coming through Buyable Pins are new and we are driving higher mobile conversions,” he said in an email.

According to the report, even if the product doesn't do that well this quarter, it won't be "make-or-break" for the feature. It's early days.

Google's new Pinterest-like feature is available in the U.S. on mobile on all major browsers on Android and iOS.

It will be interesting to see if Google adds ecommerce features to the mix. It certainly wouldn't be surprising, and it would actually make a great deal of sense on the right kinds of searches/results.

Do you think people will start using Google Image Search like they use Pinterest? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Images via Google

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.