Mark Twain’s often misquoted reply to a London newspaper correspondent in May 1897 “The report of my death was an exaggeration” could well apply 114 years later to the recent plethora of articles on the demise of the QR Code. The original source of these articles is a Google statement “Users will no longer find unique QR codes in their Places accounts. We’re exploring new ways to enable customers to quickly and easily find information about local businesses from their mobile phones”.
A frenzy of articles ensued claiming that Google had forsaken QR Codes for NFC and therefore QR Codes were dead. Of those that I have seen the most amusing is on Gizmodo Australia where the author has obviously never used either technology and accompanies his article with an image of an EZcode rather than a QR Code (image below).
I am sure that Google did not drop QR Codes from Google Places because of the imminent arrival of NFC for the simple reason that the number of smartphones that can scan QR Codes will exceed those that can scan NFC tags for some time to come. It is much more likely that they were discontinued because of a combination of lack of demand, the availability of an increasing number of alternative sources and because printing them out and dispatching them was more trouble than it was worth.
Of course eventually NFC will have great uses of its own and replace QR Codes in many use cases such as mobile payments, location-based navigation and point-of-sale activities. However it is difficult to see how marketing activities like print ads can be replaced by NFC technology. QR Codes are cheap, visible, easy to implement, in use, spreading rapidly and anyone can create one in a few seconds. Do not expect to see QR Codes die any time soon.