Quick Response (QR) codes are as common as pachinko machines in Japan. Basically, they are a type of small bar code that captures a web address. With a mobile phone, you just take a picture of the code and then your mobile browser is directly re-routed to this website. It is extremely convenient as it eases data input on a small mobile keyboard - especially for sometimes quite complex URLs - and offers some kind of immediacy.
QR codes are now on everything in Japan, from business cards (rather than the company website address) to catalogues. Advertising and e-commerce are part of the applications supported but the main point really is to simplify the mobile internet experience.
QR codes have now appeared in Europe and the US, mainly pushed by advertisers, e.g. Umbro pictured below, with companies such as Boots or HSBC also adding QR codes to their products or print materials in the UK.
The issue with QR codes at this stage is that not that many phones have a reader pre-installed. The swiss army knife that is the N95 obviously has one, but it is well hidden in a sub-sub-sub menu. To favour uptake, clients can be downloaded for the main OSes - Symbian, Windows Mobile,... It will however take time to create critical mass in the installed base, but I hope this is something mobile operators (not advertisers) will further push. It is indeed a great enabler to increase mobile internet traffic, just look at Japan!
written on 11-Jun-2008
Free morning newspaper also started to add their QR code. They suggest you download a software from www.i-nigma.mobi on your phone in order to be able to read QR code. I tried on my Samsung I600 but could not get it to work. So as you said the barrier is still the phone, but it will be cool when it is pre-installed by default.
written on 11-Dec-2012
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