Google Buying Visual Art Seacher Plink; Its First UK Acquisition

Google’s mobile picture-based search service Google Goggles is about to get more cultured. Google’s buying Oxford, England-based Plink, an Android mobile app that will identify any work of art photographed by users.

The two people at the start-up – founders Mark Cummins and James Philbin – are joining Google (NSDQ: GOOG) to work on Google Goggles, which was launched in December to enable Google searching by mobile photo.

Plink is Google’s first ever UK acquisition, but a small one; largely a developer hire. Google Goggles already offered art identification by mobile pic; it likely needed to improve that offering and augment the team with more talent as mobile search becomes increasingly important to Google. Google CEO Eric Schmidt said in January Google would acquire a company each month, but mostly small ones.

Plink already won $100,000 from Google in December after Android users picked it as one of the platform’s best reference apps.

Google’s mobile product development director Hugo Barra, based in London, is mad keen on that area, suggesting that mobiles – because they have new “sensors” like camera, mic and GPS – open up new kinds of search possibilities (see Barra’s presentation on this in my video or our recent audio interview).

Cummins and Philbin write: “For Plink as a company, it