When you think about the behemoth that is Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), the words “search engine” inevitably spring to mind. After all, that’s the company’s core business – and its biggest revenue source.
What many people don’t realize, however, is that Google’s search advertising business actually resulted from an acquisition in 2003.
Same goes for Android, which Google acquired in 2005. Then there’s mobile advertising, YouTube, display advertising, the list goes on.
In fact, after completing over 90 acquisitions in the past decade, the only popular Google feature that the company built from the ground up is probably Gmail.
The company’s not slowing down one bit, either. In 2010 alone, Google scooped up 48 more companies. And according to The Wall Street Journal, it could buy even more this year.
And I’ve just found one of its primary targets…
Want $400 a Week? There’s an App for That
That’s because a private company called Gigwalk just launched a mobile application for the iPhone (and soon for Android) that’s “the first ever distributable workforce” for consumer research.
In other words, it allows businesses to hand you cash for performing random, nearby tasks. Here’s how it works:
- A company posts a specific task and location. For example, “Test Wireless Signal at 123 Fleet St.”
- Gigwalk forwards the company’s request to nearby “Gigwalkers.”
- The first Gigwalker who makes it to the scene sends a report, video, or images to the company.
- The company can then verify the authenticity of the Gigwalker’s findings.
- Once verified, the Gigwalker gets paid.
Basically, this is good for any large companies who don’t want to waste resources on simple tasks that could easily be done by local consumers.
As All Things Digital writes, “The service is already being used by GPS mapping firm TomTom and restaurant listing service Menupages to ‘crowdsource’ tasks that are core to their businesses.”
While other platforms like Amazon’s (Nasdaq: AMZN) Mechanical Turk offer similar services, Gigwalk’s ability to use GPS coordinates helps companies verify the Gigwalker’s information before paying up. That means you can’t get away with posting fake pictures and videos while eating Cheetos and sitting on the couch!
So how much money are we talking about here? It’s a wide range – between $3 and $90 per task.
Of course, rookie Gigwalkers initially get the lower paying tasks. But you can build up your “Streetcred” score in order to scoop the bigger bucks. That’s exactly what Andrew Schut from New York did. He made over $2,000 in five weeks – an average of $400 a week.
Not bad. But why do I think Google could end up acquiring Gigwalk? Two words: Business Photos…
Why Gigwalk Makes Sense for Google
Through Google’s “Places” application, people can provide reviews of local businesses. It’s a popular feature, with over five million ratings and reviews so far.
However, to advance Places to the next level, Google announced the launch of a new project called Business Photos. This allows business owners to request free (Google-funded) photo shoots inside their establishments.
And that’s where Gigwalk comes in. Why go the expensive photo shoot route when you can get a mob of ready-and-able Gigwalkers to do it for you instead? It would be faster, cheaper and more social than sending in a paid photographer.
True, they won’t be professional photos. But Google could always pay based on the picture quality.
Bottom line: Gigwalk offers a fresh way for businesses to interact with local customers. And given Google’s insatiable hunger for quality startups – and how useful this new platform could be for the search giant’s business – don’t be surprised if Gigwalk is next on Google’s buyout list.