Are QR Codes Already History?

With Microsoft announcing plans Monday to shut down its Tag technology by 2015, it cast further skepticism around the future of QR codes and other mobile activation platforms like augmented reality and image recognition.

Taking up the topic in a panel at the Mobile Insider Summit, executives from QR code vendors like Scanbuy and Blippar acknowledged codes have often failed to deliver a good user experience.

Scanbuy CEO Mike Wehrs, whose company acquired the licensing rights to Tag, said QR codes, especially early on, only linked to a Web site instead of providing compelling content within the technology itself. “A lot of the experiences have been crap,” chimed in Patrick Aluise, vice president, head of media, at Blippar. He said codes, or image recognition technology like Blippar’s, are just triggering devices for whatever a brand is delivering.

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As media companies and brands improve those experiences, he’s confident that consumers will come back to codes. But fellow panelist David Wachs, senior vice president, mobile, ePrize, remained pessimistic. He criticized QR codes’ lack of virality and cumbersome design, saying it’s easier to simply type in a mobile URL than access a code.

For his part, Wehrs suggested Scanbuy isn’t giving up on Tag, calling the pickup of rights to the technology from Microsoft “a very big deal with us.” Along with its own EZCodes, he said Tag was the only other remaining proprietary format in the market.

Wehrs told MediaPost Mobile Insider Steve Smith that Scanbuy will upgrade Tag this week with features found in its other codes.

6 comments about "Are QR Codes Already History?".
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  1. John Wiest from WIEST & CO., August 21, 2013 at 2:10 p.m.

    Very interesting, like others I was skeptical when QR codes were introduced. Another technology in search of a purpose. Jump forward to today, I'm involved in launching a new service. We're presenting at a national sporting event. What better way than a QR code to take interested fans to find the new app / service AND to see a short video about it. No one wants to stand around and type in a URL. So, QR codes' speed and accuracy are two of its compelling features. I'm all ears if there are easier, widely distributed technologies to achieve the same end. Photo recognition still seems a bit far off or most consumers.

  2. Joseph Koufman from Engauge, August 21, 2013 at 6:46 p.m.

    What about http://www.starstar.co/ as an alternative to typing in short URLs and scanning QR codes? How many AVERAGE consumers actually know what app they could use to scan a QR anyway? StarStar allows anyone with a phone (even feature phones) to call the simple phone number and get content served to them via text message triggering either an app, browser, etc. Seems like a far superior way to drive a consumer into content since it takes NO additional app download or typing in a code.

  3. Joseph Koufman from Engauge, August 21, 2013 at 6:55 p.m.

    BTW I have no affiliation with StarStar, I just think it is a superior solution.

  4. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, August 22, 2013 at 4:47 a.m.

    @John. Hardly compelling. "No one wants to stand around and type in a URL". So presumably less than no one will, "stand around and install an app to scan QR codes", then "stand around and scan a QR code", then "stand around and watch a short video", and finally "stand around and download a new app".

  5. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, August 22, 2013 at 4:53 a.m.

    @Joseph. What's the security for that? Doesn't sound safe if content can be automatically downloaded because I receive a text message. I note the domain is .co not .com so I'm not going to visit it and check.

  6. BJ Hatcher from Hacker Group, August 23, 2013 at 11:14 a.m.

    I would argue that QR codes may have a place among a range of tactics, as does **, and any other technology out there. I think the usability and adoption of most of these devices are more about consumer behaviors than the actual technology. The question is really about, what's the point of going through these additional steps. The more steps involved the more the end result better be worth it. If there's no value proposition in the process, then as a consumer I'm going to be disappointed. As most campaigns focus on an experience (that is probably poorly thought out) and not focused on value -- whether through an offer or just appreciating the value of a consumer's time -- then there's little point to most of the technologies themselves. It's up to us as marketers to consider the journey, the time investment, and the end pay off to keep our customers engaged. If we take any of those for granted, we're not doing our jobs.

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