Microsoft Tag or QR Codes – Which is Growing Faster?

Microsoft Tag is growing but is it growing as fast as QR Codes? Tag statistics are summarized in four bullet points in today’s press release: March had the greatest number of Tag scans since Tag launched in January 2009, with more than 50 percent more scans than any other month to date. The number of scans per month has doubled over the past three months, and the number of users per month has increased 2.5 times in that same timeframe. Three billion Tags were printed during the past six months alone, and 5 billion Tags have been printed since Microsoft Tag’s January 2009 launch. Publishing continues to lead among top industries adopting Tag, with retail scenarios and entertainment holding the second and third positions, respectively.

7 thoughts on “Microsoft Tag or QR Codes – Which is Growing Faster?”

  1. As much as we love Tag, QR has a huge head start and while the number of Tags scanned stands at 5 billion, it is but a drop in a very large bucket.

    I’ve seen magazines from Japan that easily contain several thousand codes alone. Given a distribution of as little as 100,000 one could project several million related scans. And that’s just one magazine during one month’s circulation.

    Note also that QR is active all around the world, whereas Tag has only minimal visibility outside the US. Then there is the fact that QR readers are already on over 100 million phones, many not even “smartphones” per se.

    My guess would be that there have already been trillions of QR Codes printed and that the number of codes scand would be in the quadrillions.

    That said, I believe there is more than enough room for both and each has its strenths and weeknesses.

    What detractors of Tag list as it’s biggest weekness, central controll is actually it’s biggest strength. Case in point – the fragmented UNIX world just couldn’t get their act together and now Microsoft has a server business.

    Once Microsoft opens up the SDK to allow developer to create applications with their reader, the game will change again. Our friends at Quickmark have seen the light and done just that. They’ve finally released their SDK to embed the Quickmark reader into user applications. It would have been better 3 years ago but as they say..

    So is Tag growing? Sure. Faster than QR? Well they’ve gone from a garden hose, to a firehose but they’re still facing a tsunami.

    Developers. developers, developers. Uh, yeah, sure.

  2. Please note in your comments that there is a huge, huge difference in number of codes printed vs. number of codes scanned. Microsoft is counting the total circulation of publications x number of codes in the publication. Thus a newspaper with 1 million circulation with two codes counts as 2 M printed.

    What is the percent of those codes that are scanned? Microsoft is not telling us those numbers. For that matter neither are other firms. I can assure you that QR Codes are generating much higher numbers of printings. I would also suggest, although I do not have the data to prove it, that users are more likely to scan a QR code given that multiple apps can read QR and only Microsoft Tag can read it.

  3. Correct me if I am wrong please, but I am of the impression that Tag codes are multi-color. Quite a few of the things I need to print codes on are either monochrome or I have a limited number of colors (more colors means more cost). So, I use QR…

  4. @El, Microsoft Tag has an option to generate the code in b/w as well. It’s easy to generate the B/W Tags using the Tag Manager tool.

  5. Let’s be clear. As long has MS refuses to release a reader the MS Tag will only have minimal growth. The fact that QR code are an open source solution free of the tampering of big brother makes them all the more appealing. The MS Tag looks nice and has a good read rate, but as more camera phones are increasing in their pixel depth it will make reading QR Code easier and faster. MS is loosing. Let MS tag free and you will watch the world get plaster with them. Keep them caged and you will cage the potential. This is from a 12 year MS loyalist.

  6. We’ve used both QR and Tag,for our own applications as well as for client campaigns. What it boils down to is that QR is far more ‘accessible’ (ie already built in to many cell phones) and popular (so there’s less need for user education), whereas Tag is easier to scan and provides more data on usage etc.

  7. Tag has opened their API so devs can add Tag reading capability to their apps. The new Pirq app uses Tag so users can scan a Tag on a merchant’s door and get discounts when they walk into the store.

    What every phone needs is a universal scanner to read either 2D barcode, and now that the API is open this is 100% possible.

    Tag beats QR in every feature hands down. The vast majority of the population haven’t started using 2D barcodes yet. There’s plenty of time for Tag to succeed. In the meantime those who scan QR codes are simply learning to scan 2D barcodes to get more information. This helps more than it hurts Tag.

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