I played around with Google's newly released Shopper App on my NEXUS One today and have to say that Google is serioius when they say they are going after the product search/mobile shopping arena. The visual search is super fast, simply hover it over any CD, DVD or Book cover (even with a shaky hand) and it will retrieve the info of said item within 2 seconds. I took the opportunity to play with the voice search and was very pleased with how accurate the search query was translated and resultsa re displayed. Overall, the app itself doesn't do things that existing UPC or image scan apps already can do and I was a little disappointed that Google didn't roll out the ability to scan product images and search (safe bet to assume it will due in time); I'm putting money on that Google has big plans for this app as it will soon tie it up with all of its existing sevices to make product search tie to your Gmail, Calendar, YouTube accounts and more.
The mere fact that Google engineers know how to produce a high quality application isn't so shocking. The underlying significance here is that Google has been leveraging its Android OS Marketplace to attract mobile app ideas (developers flocked to Android because they resent Apple's way of running their app store); but as Google sits back and identifies an area for growth, it will enter the game and become a player with an unfair advantage against those app developers who came up with the idea in the first place. Given the way they've entered the hardware handset game (NEXUS One), the pattern is now clear.