Will QR codes top the list of tech ideas that never caught on?
A QR (quick response) code is a bar code that can be read by a smartphone. The square of smaller black and white boxes is read by an app that reveals content or directs the uses to a website.
The aim is to simply allow would-be customers to click the image on their smartphone without having the need to take down contact details or urls.
Sounds good. But where are they? How often do you see QR codes and how often have you actually used one?
“How do you see QR codes developing?,” we asked on the forum. And if the debate is anything to go by, “slowly, if at all” is the consensus.
“One reason for QR codes having a slow take up is that as an open source device, it makes it difficult for entrepreneurs to turn them into cash,” said Ian Luck.
“In the case of the QR code, the clever stuff is freely available. The original thinker has spent all his cash on trial and error while the new guy has a free run with what he knows will be a working business model with no protective legislation to overcome.”
It comes down to what you want to use a QR code for, says Oli Rhys. “They are ideal to take people from the real world to a website – that is how you should use them. They are mostly a route to more information. They are not necessarily a buy it now button for the real world.”
Too often, he suggests, a poor response could be down to them being poorly used. “I have seen a number of very stupid uses: Don’t place them on a flag – I can’t take a good enough photo of the QR code as it flies on the wind 40 meters away!
“Don’t place them on a mobile web page. How am I meant to take a picture of it if I’m looking at it with the device which is also a camera?
“Don’t place them on the back of a car. The image is going to get dirty, and by the time I have my camera ready to take a picture of it, the car has gone.”
Rajiv Nathan thinks the QR codes days are numbered. “The QR code is supposed to be an easier way to access content. When you have the option to type in a url versus opening the QR scanning app, centering the code, and snapping the image maybe three or four times just to access that content, are you really making it easier on the consumer?”
“The adoption of 2D/QR codes is moot,” added Tony Casso. “Until we can come up with a standard that is readable from any (universal) reader there will be too many islands rendering the solution unsatisfactory. Not to mention there are other emerging alternatives competing for mind-share.”
But Sukumar Daniel saw a potential long-term use for QR codes. “This could be an extremely useful tool if applied in IT service management. Support engineers can immediately access any support requests, update support requests, get information related to the IT Enabled Asset simply by looking at their smart phone.”
Are QR codes being mis-used? Will they be most useful for targeted groups – such as field engineers – rather than the general consumer? Or will it be a classic case of “use them or lose them”?
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