It’s over five years since Neomedia launched their ‘Neoreader’ QR Code scanner, on October 22, 2007. Neomedia was (and still is as far as I know) the only publicly quoted company in the QR Code space and at the time of the scanner launch their stock was trading around a split adjusted $1.80. Bad management and a series of disastrous strategic decisions (like partnering with Neustar in the failed Mobile Barcode Clearinghouse Service) have bought their current stock price down to an unsurprising low of $0.0032. Naive investors who mistakenly believed Neomedia and its patent portfolio were in some way a proxy for the growth in QR Code usage have been badly burnt.
Profiting from any open source technology is not easy and when the technology is very simple like QR Codes it becomes impossible to make more than pocket change. QR Codes are free to generate, free to scan and free to manage hence making any kind of real money from them is just not possible.
I don’t use Neoreader routinely because it collects data about your usage every time you scan a QR Code, which enables Neomedia to build a complete picture of your scanning behaviour (see Does Your QR Code Scanner Spy On You?). However the decoding element of Neoreader is very good and I use it sometimes for damaged or difficult to scan codes. I was doing this yesterday and noticed that the latest version of the app now comes with ads (images below).
Like most people I don’t like in-app advertising but it is often the only way that a small developer can generate a little revenue until the user purchases the ad free version. So why would a company that claims to be “…at the forefront of the industry in Mobile Marketing” suddenly put ads in its app for small change? I took another look at the HTTP requests made by the Neoreader scanner (image below), there were 29 requests to ad-servers before the 302 redirect from the Neomedia server, not good.
It’s not only another bad strategic decision but a sign that the crew are grasping at one cent straws as Neomedia’s debt mountain sinks the ship.