Monday, June 13, 2011

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should

Because anybody who reads this blog is technically literate you will not need me to tell you that the black and white boxes that seem to be festooning ads are called QR (quick response) codes.

You'll find them in the corner of newspaper and magazine ads, in department store aisles, on product displays and price tags.

The one in this blog posting is of my web address. If you possess a smartphone with the appropriate app you just point it at the code and like magic it will decode it to reveal

According to this article, the number of QR scans recorded by the industry's leading code maker has soared to 2 million a month, nearly double the rate last year, and up from 80,000 a month in 2009.

An analyst, of something or another, said: "They love QRs because they're cheap and easy to deploy, and you can put them anywhere from print ads to the back of stadium seats."

Well the industry might like them but consumer awareness still lags behind. Only 5% of total smartphone owners in the U.S. have scanned a QR, according to Forrester Research. But it's on a sharp curve upward. About 25% of Android phone owners and 7% of iPhone users tried out a QR in the second quarter of 2010, and that number is expected to rise this year, Forrester said.

Like so many technologies there is a tendency of marketers to use it just because they can not because they have a good reason.

Don’t get me wrong, I can see loads of applications for the codes, especially for providing easy to read information for older people and feel reasonably certain that they will be widely used. But right now I get the feeling that it is a technology in search of an application. Dick Stroud

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