Microsoft to Pay for Photos using 'Mobile Workforce'

Dennis Faas's picture

Less than three months after its initial launch, Microsoft has partnered with Gigwalk, a mobile phone application that allows different brands to post odd jobs (called "gigs").

Ironically, Microsoft will soon offer financial compensation to those who tackle gigs on behalf of their Bing search engine, and since the app is currently available exclusively on the Apple iPhone, Microsoft is actually paying rival consumers to complete these odd jobs.

The Bing search engine will soon add photographs to its map results, so Microsoft will need people living in select metropolitan cities to snap pictures and augment information. The most sought after photographs will be menus, street names and product placement in various stores.

In addition to receiving actual money, another advantage of "working" for Microsoft will be having access to Photosynth, a software application that captures and analyzes digital photographs in 3D.

50,000 "Employees" and Growing

Gigwalk is dependent on the 50,000 individuals working on an on-call basis.

Analysts believe that those who have already responded to a gig consist of a mix of "professionals that have come to view Gigwalk as a serious second paycheck, while the remainder are more casual users of the service, performing tasks on occasion." (Source:

Like any other profession, novice "gigwalkers" are given an orientation period in which they prove their photographing abilities through practice rounds and non-paying exemplars. Once their level of reliability is sufficient, gig efforts can vary between $3-7 for a 20-60 minute gig and top out at upwards of $90.

Expansion Plans Revealed

While 50,000 interested gig pursuers is an impressive start, those behind the app have plans for expansion.

Currently there are eight markets for which gigwalkers are needed that include: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Miami and Seattle. According to co-founder and chief executive of Gigwalk, Ariel Seidman, "Anywhere there is an NFL team, we want (Gigwalk) to be there as well." (Source:

Since the app is only available to iPhone customers, future plans also include branching out into the Android market, with a version expected to be released later this year.

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