Last week Google introduced Search by Image feature. There were a handful of web-sites that suggested content-based image retrieval in the Internet, but the quality was low, as I blogged earlier. I repeated the queries TinEye failed at, and Google image search found them both! It found few instances of Marion Lenbach (one of them from this blog, which means the coverage is large!), and I finally remembered the movie from the HOG paper: The Talanted Mr. Ripley.
So, from the quick glance Google finally accomplished what the others could not do for ages. Why did they succeed? There are two possible reasons: large facilities that allow building and storing large index efficiently, and a unique technology. The former is surely the case: it seems the engine indexed a large portion of the photos in the web. I cannot say anything about the technology: there is nothing about that among the Google's CVPR papers, so one need to do black-box testing to see which transformations and modifications are allowed.
Google seems to expand to the areas of multimedia web, even where the niche is already occupied. Recently they announced their alternative to grooveshark, the recommendation system for Music beta (the service is unfortunately available on invitation basis in the US only). The system is not based on collaborative filtering (only), they (also) analyse the content. I planned to investigate this area too, but given that it is becoming mature and thus not so alluring. I am eager to see if the service will succeed. After all, Buzz did not replace Twitter, and Orkut did not replace Facebook.