Learn how to validate your startup idea by pre-selling it, for only $80 (includes a free 1-hour consultancy call).


CDs, books and videogames identifier software
Amazon Cemetery
Software & Hardware
Acquisition Flu


SnapTell was a startup that utilized image recognition for mobile marketing using its visual product search technology. It enabled users to take pictures of CDs, DVDs, books, or videogames and the service would identify the product to provide customers with ratings, reviews, and pricing information. It collected the information from sites such as Google, eBay, Amazon, and more.

SnapTell had a free application for iPhone and Android called SnapTell Explorer, which made its way into the top 20 free apps of the app stores. According to SnapTell, its apps had a 15% click-through rate to online stores like Amazon.

In 2009, Amazon’s search engine and advertising subsidiary, A9.com, acquired SnapTell. Amazon likely made the purchase decision in an effort to ramp up its mobile capabilities. The news was announced on SnapTell’s blog where the company expressed its excitement over the opportunity.


Mention's White Logo

Mention helps you take charge of your social media workflow, thanks to their suite of powerful social monitoring and scheduling features. Check out their free guide, to help take your first steps into designing a workflow that works for you.

Cause of Failure

Soon after the acquisition, Amazon revealed their plans for integrating SnapTell’s technology into the Amazon experience (Amazon Mobile currently has the “flow” option, which allows you to search products with the help of your camera, which might be using SnapTell’s technology). This garnered some bad press for Amazon as it seemed that the tech giant was trying to slash the profits of smaller companies to reduce competition.

Amazon also made some changes to its Product Advertising API that forbade creators to use their Product Advertising Content through any mobile application without permission. This was a curious addition that seemed to be targeting applications like Delicious Library that had been quite similar to SnapTell.

There has been no news about SnapTell since the acquisition.


The All-In-One Newsletter for Startup Founders

Every week, I’ll send you Failory’s latest interviews and articles and 3 curated resources for founders. Join +20,000 other startup founders!