Why isn't everyone using QR codes? [iMedia Connection]

Why isn't everyone using QR codes?

iMedia Connection

March 8, 2011




NeoMedia Comments on the Referenced Article:


Standardization of 2D barcode symbologies


The majority of mobile barcode scanner apps, and NeoReaderTM in particular, read multiple standard / open symbologies (QR, Data Matrix, Aztec, UPC, EAN, etc).  Typically, the only time a consumer must download a specific scanner app is when he/she wishes to scan a proprietary barcode, like Microsoft’s Tag, Scanbuy’s EZcode, or BeeTagg’s BeeTagg Code.  For instance, in order to scan a Tag code, one must use Microsoft’s Tag reader or to scan an EZcode, one must use Scanbuy’s ScanLife reader.  In the majority of instances, using a single scanning app, like NeoReader, will allow the user to scan standard symbologies quickly and easily without necessitating multiple app downloads.  For more information, please see our educational white paper, 2D Mobile Barcodes – A Definitive Guide.


Barcode scanning software pre-loads


Today, many mobile operators and device manufacturers have begun pre-loading scanning apps onto their devices, making the scanning experience that much easier for the consumer.  As an example, NeoMediaTM has recently signed agreements with Sony Ericsson and Samsung Italy to pre-load NeoReader across their devices.


Consumer awareness


While today consumers are still discovering the power of 2D barcodes, adoption rates are skyrocketing globally and we expect they will continue to rise, making 2D barcode integration a foundational element of a brands’ mobile marketing activities.  Given that consumer education is still needed at this stage, we regularly encourage brands to incorporate a scanning call-to action-and/or help text within their adverts to better instruct the consumer in interacting with the code as well as how to download a reader/scanning application.  We have seen this simple step go a long way in encouraging consumers to scan a code.  For this and more best practices, please see our educational white paper, How to Create a Mobile Barcode Program.


NFC impact


While Near-Field Communications (NFC) shows promise within the mobile marketplace, there remain challenges for the technology as a  broad based competitor to QR codes, if deployed and promoted correctly, including:

  • Reach: Given that NFC-capable mobile phones and applicable POS terminals are only now  beginning to enter the marketplace, it will be many years before the technology reaches mass adoption, especially when considering the capital investment for the development and deployment involved. QR codes, on the other hand, can be read right now using most if not all existing mobile phones, with cameras, equipped with the appropriate software or a downloaded application. Mobile handsets are also capable of rendering readable 2D barcodes on their displays (so called "mobile coupons"), which could prove very competitive to NFC chips used in passive "card emulation" mode where they simply provide a unique ID equivalent to a magnetic stripe debit card.
  • Cost:  Currently, 2D barcodes are inexpensive to print and integrate into marketing collateral or to render and display on device.  NFC chips, on the other hand, are significantly more expensive to produce and embed into print media or to integrate into handsets and POS devices.
  • Security: RFID technologies, such as NFC, can be subject to jamming and 'intercept" (eavesdropping) attacks, especially when deployed in P2P implementations where both sides (the POS terminal and the handset) are powered, active and emitting. QR codes on the other hand are optical in nature and intercept requires a much more complex imaging attack. 
  • Privacy: A question remains surrounding the issue of consumer privacy.  The ability for a user’s phone to receive an alert when it passes within range of a NFC-enabled advertisement is an exciting prospect for advertisers, however how does the user initially opt in to or opt out of receiving these communications?  In contrast, 2D barcodes allow the user to control when, where, and how they interact with a brand.