Amazon subsidiary buys mobile marketing company

A9 acquired SnapTell, the company that delivers information to people who take photos of products with their cell phones

Amazon search subsidiary A9 has acquired SnapTell, a company that lets mobile users take photos of products or advertisements to get special deals or more information.

The companies did not disclose the value of the deal, announced on Tuesday.

SnapTell end-users, such as those who download the application to their iPhone or Android device, use their phone cameras to take a photo of an advertisement or a product, like a book or CD.

The user then sends the photo to SnapTell, which returns various kinds of information, depending on the marketing campaign designed by the company selling the product.

One example of a recent campaign came from the makers of the weight-loss pill Alli. Phone users could take a picture of the Alli logo or of singer Wynonna Judd's tour bus for a chance to win tickets to a Judd concert.

Another campaign let readers of Wired magazine snap a photo of an advertisement for the TV program "Storm Chasers" to receive a video clip sent to their phones.

SnapTell also has a database of "millions" of pictures of DVD, CD, book and video game covers. When end-users snap a photo of a cover and send it to SnapTell, they get information back about prices for the product at stores.

But apparently end-users want to go one step further.

"One of the most heard requests was how we could integrate better with Amazon's fabulous shopping experience," SnapTell wrote in a blog post about the acquisition.

"We should be able to do so pretty well now."

Amazon created A9 in 2003 to develop search technologies, including Search Inside The Book, which lets users search for a book by character names or even obscure phrases.

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