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Apple’s Hire of William Stasior May Be for More than Just Search

Earlier this afternoon, AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher reported that Apple has hired Amazon executive William Stasior, who was in charge of Amazon’s A9, which focuses on product and visual search technologies. Swisher reports that Stasior will be working with the Siri team in his new position at Apple.

What’s more intriguing is what else Stasior might find himself working on — presumably, strengthening Apple’s search and search advertising technology in the wake of its increasing competition with Google.

“Apple’s search and search advertising technology” covers a broad swath of search that could be… well anything. If I was to take a stab at what Apple might specifically want Stasior for, I’d look at one of the products A9 ended up introducing on the App Store. Flow Powered by Amazon is a visual search app that attempts to visually recognize and display relevant information about books, music, video games, and more by simply pointing your smartphone’s camera at the cover or UPC barcode. The app allows people to bring up product details and customer ratings by identifying the product’s packaging (it’s in the same vein as Google Goggles).

Siri would be well suited as not just a voice assistant, but as a visual assistant. Given Apple’s recent foray into books, magazines, and textbooks, using Siri to scan and subscribe to a magazine through your iPhone, get more information on a paperback, or find more novels by an author could be a possibility. I could see Apple offering album ratings for music from iTunes, or displaying rental fees when you scan the cover of a Blu-ray boxset. A9 also powers CloudSearch and Product Search at Amazon — I don’t see the hire being related to search advertising, but rather for product search as it applies to Apple’s digital ecosystems.