2D Bar Codes: Where Are We Today?

Microsoft Tag had a big announcement this week.

It announced:

  • 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.

This is really good news. When Forrester Research surveyed consumers last year, only 1% had used a 2D bar code reader in the past three months with adoption higher among smartphone owners — especially those with Android handsets. (See report.) The growth I would offer is more supply-side than demand-side driven. So — with this annoucement on my mind, I was excited to see a branded Microsoft Tag on my gum package this week. I thought, "Wow, these are everywhere." Then I scanned it and thought, "Wow, there are still some really average to poor experiences out there despite all the best practices and help that Microsoft offers."

We are past the days when you could do mobile for the sake of mobile. Anything mobile is not cool or interesting. Should you still be experimenting? Yes, but be smart.

eBusiness professionals — this isn't simply marketing. There is a lot of focus on 2D bar codes today. The bigger picture is: Consumers will use their mobile phones to do research, shop, and engage with their physical world. 2D bar codes are one option for facilitating that connection. Best Buy uses QR codes to connect its customers to reviews, pricing, and side-by-side comparisons in stores. "The" way that consumers connect the physical world with the digital one doesn't exist yet. They have many options. As a community, we need to move consumers forward with good experiences.

Comments

I'm looking for any examples at all

I started looking at this in the UK and I've been actively looking for examples all of last week. I even went to the local Tesco Metro near our London office and went through a sample of 10 branded products from a range of CPG companies like Kelloggs, Nestle, etc. Absolutely nothing. I looked all the way home, on the Tube, on the train, back at home over the weekend when I was out shopping (two major supermarkets and a range of high street stores). Nothing.

The only place I've seen a QR code all week was in the back of a Nottingham City Council licensed taxi offering you the option to scan the code to give feedback on the driver !

OK - so not a particularly scientific survey, but I expected to see something out there rather than a complete void.