On 14 January Google published a blog post announcing its acquisition of Pointy, a start-up based in Dublin, Ireland, that lets bricks-and-mortar stores make their products discoverable online.

GlobalData technology editor Lucy Ingham comments: “The deal, which is subject to the typical closing conditions, is expected to be completed within the next few weeks. While neither company has disclosed financial terms, TechCrunch is reporting that the acquisition has seen Google pay €147-million to bring Pointy into its fold.

“For Google, this provides the opportunity to present shopping search results for physical stores as well as those online – something it already does in a limited capacity – and so significantly increase the value of Google Shopping for users.

“However, while this is a significant step in bridging the divide between brick-and-mortar stores and the online e-commerce world, the acquisition has the potential to be even more impactful.

“The acquisition of Pointy is a significant step for Google, because it provides the search engine giant with a way to cheaply and easily catalogue physical assets on a large, yet decentralised scale.

“Shopping is undoubtedly the leading use case, and Google will likely be looking at ways to expand the adoption of Pointy. This may include dropping or reducing the current one-time cost of £699 to integrate Pointy, or even getting leading point-of-sale manufacturers to directly integrate the technology into their products.

“If Google can increase the prevalence of Pointy enough, it could ultimately have coverage of physical stores to rival those of digital stores, bringing with it a potential step-change in how people shop.

“However, there are also potential applications beyond e-commerce. What Google has bought, in essence, is a means to catalogue real-world items, and the same technology in the Pointy Box could be put to use in many other fields.

“Potential applications could include medicines, enabling Google to collect data on gluts and shortages of particular items and use this to provide industry-targeted services, inform users or even assist its own moves into the healthcare space.”