Yellow Pages Gets a Proprietary 2D Code

We have already seen QR Codes on the front cover of a Yellow Pages and suggested as long ago as 2008 that there should be an option to place a QR Code alongside a listing. Why it is taking such a long time for Yellow Pages publishers to provide this service is a complete mystery. Now AT&T has taken a step backwards and is using its proprietary Datamatrix Code inside and on the cover of their Real Yellow Pages for North Carolina (image below). The code will not work for anyone using a standard barcode reader and will obviously create many bad user experiences when people try. Are they unconcerned or am I missing something?

AT&T proprietary Datamatrix Code on Yellow Pages cover

10 thoughts on “Yellow Pages Gets a Proprietary 2D Code”

  1. This isn’t “Propriety” its managed, which means they can change its contents. Propriety means the code font itself can’t be scanned by other decoders, but this in fact a standard format.

    Not sure what the concern is either, its a great scanner imo.

  2. @John – It’s propriety because it only works with one scanner ie. the one that is provided by the same company that generates the propriety codes.

    If you are not sure what the concern is then ask some smartphone owners with one of the 100 or so standard scanner apps installed to tell you what happens when they try and scan it.

  3. What is the Microsoft Tag solution considered? I have seen this in many newspapers recently. I really like Yellow Pages solution, as I am very concerned about security and I trust AT&T. It appears I don’t go directly to the unsecure WWW. I have also tried the Mobile Tag Universal scanner and the BET application. Both work, so I guess the code works with more tha a single scanner!

  4. You can only scan this code with at&t’s own scanner. If your phone has a different scanner it wont work. Qr codes are a standard and many android phones have qr code scanners preinstalled. Using datamatrix will result in a miserable experience for most. Thanks for nothing at&t.

  5. It’s a video behind this code, i use several bar code scanner (turkish, french,american)it worked for me.

    I think u need to get a universal bar code reader, there s some who scan Ean code as well 😉 like mobiletag for instance

  6. Perhaps it’s fitting that the YELLOW PAGES (a dead medium) are using ATT’s code (which few people will successfully scan).

    When YELLOW PAGES are delivered to my door, they go immediately to the recycling bin — I haven’t used them in over 3 years (Seriously, this is what I do). Mobile Search, or online Search have replaced the Yellow Pages entirely.

    ATT’s code is as relevant as the YELLOW PAGES. In the process of vanishing.

  7. We, in France, are confronted to this propriety solution from mobiletag for a few years. It is indeed a bad news for US market that this solution crossed the Atlantic since it is very confusing for most users and marketing professionals.

    The principle is technically very simple: a string of numeric characters is encoded in the open datamatrix standard code. Decoding datamatrix codes is possible with most standard readers. Eg : if you scan the code with the inigma reader the string of characters will be displayed. But if you want to access the corresponding URL, your reader has to connect to an AT&T “resolution” server provided by mobiletag. Every application that does this call to the “resolution” server is able to redirect the user to the correct URL, others (most of the readers) wont.

    @Michael : As a telco engineer I studied mobiletag security argument. The only extra security I found is that the solution secures mobiletag revenues 🙂 since publishers are locked in as long as their codes are visible. If they don’t pay the annual fee for their code the URL resolution will be stopped and the code will become unusable.

    @ Roger : Many thanks for your daily posts. We, at myelefant, are reading it every days for nearly two years now and make some translations of your posts in French in our blog from time to time.

  8. Hi all,

    Don’t support proprietary solutions.

    I agree…
    ATT’s code is as relevant as the YELLOW PAGES. In the process of vanishing.

    QR Codes are starting to appear everywhere and best practices are starting to be applied.

    QR Codes 2.0 = Web 2.0 = ERA of Publishing, Conversation and OPENess 😉

    Yellow Pages QR Codes 1.0 = READ ONLY = WE CONTROL the conversation. 🙁


  9. The AT&T Code Scanner reads DM, QR, and UPC/EAN. In the same way that UPC codes are just reference numbers, AT&T codes allow the code owner to manage the experience.

    I do agree that a simple change to a QR code with the ability to route directly to AT&T’s resolution server will expand the reach and readability by a wider group of scanners.

    It’s also clear that AT&T wants to promote scanning by producing it’s own scanner, and tying it to print media (isn’t that the whole point of barcode scanners?)

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