QR Codes Are Not Hot

According to Mobile Marketer yesterday’s CTIA Wireless 2010 “Aligning Brand Interest with Mobile Opportunity” panelists agreed that they do not generally advise clients to use QR codes. Mark Kaplan, vice president of Gem Strategy, New York went as far as to say “QR codes are not hot today unless you’re in Japan”. So now you know 🙂 (Video below shows an interview with Kaplan after the panel discussion).

11 thoughts on “QR Codes Are Not Hot”

  1. Strange that CTIA would have a panel that didn’t include alternative perspectives on this? I’ve seen about half a dozen Tweets (mainly from SMS marketing companies) all proclaiming the death of QR, based on a couple of guys who aren’t marketing consultants for: Calvin Klein, Gap, Jack Daniels, Fox Television, about every woman’s magazine over the summer and on, and on.

    These guys probably never took a risk or were out in front of the pack, ever. They are Followers who play it safe.

    That’s all well and good. It’s just boring. Far more fun to explore and create new markets.

  2. Isn’t an “expert” claiming a disruptive technology is ineffective a validation for its success?

    I personally agree with @sam that it comes down to people either seeing opportunities or risks.

    If I was in that room, I would challenge everyone on how to make this “broken” technology better, and use the collective intelligence of everyone in the room to come up with a creative solution. What a missed opportunity.

  3. I would take Mark a little more seriously if he did not have a smirk on his face the entire interview. Not buying his argument. @Patrick, I agree, missed opportunity.

  4. What’s interesting is that Mark lays out two main points for his argument that QR codes don’t work in marketing:

    1. There is no standardization for codes or for readers.
    2. There is too much technology interference and no preinstalled scanners.

    Both of these points are factually incorrect (shame on him for not doing his homework before spouting off this nonsense).

    1. There IS standardization for codes and readers. 2D barcodes have published ISO standards which date back to the 1990s, and Denso-Wave chooses not to exercise it’s patent rights: meaning that any individual or company can use these standards to develop 2D barcodes and readers.
    2. There is actually little technology interference in the smartphone market. BlackBerrys come with a pre-installed barcode scanner inside BlackBerry Messenger. The other two big players in the North American market (Apple OS and Android) have idiot-proof access to an app marketplace where anyone can download a barcode scanner for free. If using QR codes on mobile devices is this idiot proof now, in its marketing infancy, what will the future hold?

    Thanks for your two cents Mark, but my firm has been leveraging mobile tagging successfully in the area of marketing for SMEs for close to a year. If you don’t want to make money from this market, I’m quite happy to gobble up what could have been yours.

  5. Sliced bread was not widely hailed as the next best thing way back when either. The beauty of an app is in the resultant solution. I like the challenge of finding better ways for clients.
    Looking forward to making this part of the marketing mix.


  6. Not wanting to be insulting to Mr. Kaplan, I believe he just doesn’t get it. While there is some substance to his comments about incompatibility between generators and readers, he fails to observe that QR Code generators that make QR Codes for URL’s are nearly always read by any reader that is out there. It seems that URL QR Codes appear to be the bottom line in compatibility at this time. vCard QR Codes represent a problem of their own. Even the ScanLife reader has issues with vCard QR Codes generated from various readers. Somewhere along the line all of the generator and reader problems will disappear when QR Code recognition becomes native to the OS of the mobile device as it has in Japan and Europe. This will without a doubt happen in 2011 in this country. Please remember that there is an ISO standard for this technology. Sooner or later all of the app developers will see that if they don’t adhere to that standard they won’t make any money. Keep in mind that it’s the early adopters that reap the great rewards of any new technology. Mr. Kaplan’s implied “wait and see” approach will invariably leave him at the back of the pack. Go out there and do this now for your clients! Just remember that it’s not about the QR Code itself, it’s all about the content behind that code that really counts! If you don’t “mobilize” your content and have it contain a direct call to action you deserve whatever happens to you.

  7. I think this guy is right on the money! VERY few consumers are using QR coding. The technology HAS to be synced and the public has to be educated! Breaking into the American market, or failure to do so, can be a show stopper for this technology, at least in this country. As American users we expect our products and services to provide us with INSTANT gratification. This technology promises to instantly connect us to the world but because of the Reader/Scanner if it doesn’t work we will quickly bad mouth the technology. Then there’s the whole wi-fi quagmire!

  8. “Very few consumers are using QR codes” I took a quick survey of co-workers, friends, family and the only ones who knew what I was talking about were my kids… They are the future (hey, that’s a song) But seriously, if the code isn’t used or accessibly how can it be utilized? The technology will stabilize and as far as “WiFi” soon there won’t be a need for the “Hot Spot” scenario. We will all just connect. (where ever, whenever, whoever…)No Hot spot needed. Think ahead.

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