When I first heard news that Denso Wave had partnered with JMango my initial reaction was surprise. After all Denso Wave had shown no interest in the use of QR Codes for mobile marketing purposes since they invented them in 1994. So what was it that prompted them to get interested now and why? I asked Ilan Oosting, CEO of JMango if he would shed some more light on the new partnership and he kindly agreed. A transcript of the interview follows:
IIan, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed. Before we move on to your new partnership with Denso Wave could you please tell us a little about your own personal background and the formation of JMango?
On my side, I had been working in the telco industry for around 7 years, before starting up my own IVR company. By chance, we stumbled upon the JMango app development platform while pitching the IVR business to Deloitte in March 2008. Once we had finished our pitch, they were very polite and said thanks for coming in, now do you want to see this? At this point they introduced Duc Ngo, who then gave me a live demonstration of the JMango platform.
That night, I went back to the shareholders and partners and told them that we were in the wrong business! A few weeks later, we brought the platform and Duc. Since then, we have been working day on night on the platform and its commercialization.
What exactly does JMango do and can you give a recent example of a successful project?
JMango is basically a rapid mobile application development and deployment platform. It allows virtually anyone to create powerful mobile applications that can be deployed to virtually any phone.
We are only a small company, but have a pretty unique platform in its speed and scope. The basic model for us is one of regional based licensing and we now have a presence in Australia/NZ, Brazil, the BENELUX and Philippines. In the short time we have been operating, we have launched several mobile applications for racing teams, football clubs, mobile research, trivia games and events.
How did you become interested in QR Codes?
Probably the most recent event based projects is really where the interest in QR Codes began. We received a brief for a fully integrated mobile ticketing system, which we created using QR Codes as the data carrier, essentially people would open the application, purchase the tickets on the mobile and be sent a unique QR Code. We then built the point of sales system and needed the best quality scanners to cope with the load of traffic at the entrance to this event. We played with all sorts of scanners and had quite a few problems with them. As a result, we fell back to Denso purely for the fact that as the inventor of the 2D Code, they would surely have the best scanners for our purpose. This was really our first introduction to Denso.
From there we worked with Denso on delivering a mobile QR Code project for a Retail Expo here. Post that we started looking at the capabilities of both companies and it just seemed a natural fit, particularly as the global adoption of QR Codes for things other than logistics had begun to increase.
Was it your idea to visit Denso Wave Headquarters in Japan and what did you hope to gain from the visit?
It wasn’t our idea initially… we had several meetings with Denso International Australia who introduced us to Denso Wave’s Chief Engineer, Shibata-san. In conjunction with the guys from Denso International Australia, we presented our system, what it did and how it could work with the next generation of QR Codes. He saw the opportunity for both parties and was the one to actually champion our visit to Denso headquarters.
Once there, Duc spent several days with the Denso Wave team exploring all of the technical side of mobile and QR Codes, including barriers of multiple handsets, cameras and operating systems.
In terms of our expectations from the trip, it was a great outcome. We are now working together on developing new technologies in this space that will hopefully aid in making QR Codes more popular around the globe as well as working side by side with them, on the next generation QR Code technology, which is very exciting.
That is one of the aspects of your partnership that I find interesting. Why do you think that Denso Wave, who have shown no interest in the use of QR Codes for mobile marketing purposes since they invented them in 1994, are taking an interest now?
Well firstly, it’s not really my place to publicly comment on the policies of our partners, but I think there also needs a little bit of context given here. Denso as a company is primarily an OEM. The general model for OEMs is around receiving a brief from the client and then going away to build/manufacturer to that brief.
Further to this, the 2D QR Code, was originally set up for logistics. When they first released the code, I think marketing and mobile was the last thing on their mind. That said, now that the interest levels are there, the code is becoming more mainstream and the enquiries are starting to come in.
Do you think that Denso Wave regret, or are having second thoughts on declaring QR Codes ‘open’ and choosing not to exercise their patent rights?
Again, it’s not really my place to comment on the thoughts or strategies of partners, but I doubt there is any regret from their side. It’s certainly not something we have discussed. With most technologies, there needs to be a fair amount of leeway given to allow take up. And to be fair, it is only in recent years that we have seen the mainstream interest in the QR Code.
If you think about it another way, if they had chosen to exercise their patent rights, then we might not even be having this conversation!
You say that you are working with Denso Wave on developing new technologies and the next generation QR Code technology, are you able to give us a hint of what these might be?
There is some really exciting stuff happening with some of these new technologies. You would have already seen some of the different QR Codes involving colors and branding; which we believe will only enhance the appeal of using the code for those brands looking for a more customized solution. In addition to this, there is a lot of work going into density and size variables as well as intelligent QR Codes that move away from the standard square shape and into a more user friendly and versatile code.
We are also working on expanding the key areas for mobile and the QR Code. At the moment, the main focus is on print to mobile, however there is a much wider play here with the development of the mobile ecosystem. And of course there are a couple of proprietary initiatives that I can’t comment on, but expect some announcements shortly. Further to all of this, we are actually trying to garner feedback from those looking to use the QR Code in the future. This feedback will then go back into the labs in Japan and help shape the development roadmap. This online form will be available shortly and we will be sure to let you know.
Thank you IIan for taking the time to shed some light on your partnership with Denso Wave and good luck for the future.