You know things are bad when a positive headline like “QR Codes Hope to Be This Summer’s Breakaway Hit” ends with the realization that its do or die for the 15 year old QR Code technology. QR Codes have been around for so long. In North America the strangle hold on consumer cell phones combined with the lack of adoption of a QR Code reader “on deck” (meaning on the software platform approved and provided by the carriers) has meant no QR Code adoption by anyone.
I am not sure what memo went out from what highly placed CMO or CMO newsletter but every marketeer and their dog is talking about QR Codes. “Can the QR Code link to my website?” Yes, yes dear marketeer it can. Its a visually encrypted url. “Does my website need to be mobile optimized?” Well, yes that would be better but we have already been over that a number of times, right?
If it sounds like I have an axe to grind its because I do. I was out pitching QR Codes in the middle part of the dark decade. The carriers did everything possible to kill any real use of QR Codes by doing what they tended to do best, nothing. So here in 2011, on the verge of mass adoption of a truly exciting technology, near field communication (which has also been around for a long time) its hard to listen to and get excited about everyone asking about QR Codes.
Its even harder to listen to breathless start ups talking aout the upcoming “consumer engagement” they will provide.
“Startups in the long-simmering QR code market are hoping that the change in season, along with what they say is a “critical mass” of smart phones, will finally bring QR codes, barcodes that lead to URLs or information when scanned, into the mainstream.”
(Its not a good thing when tech writers put “critical mass” in quotes.)
“Los Angeles-based startup ShareSquare makes QR codes that lead to customized HTML5-based web applications. The majority of the company’s clients are in the entertainment industry, from independent musicians to large movie studios, and use ShareSquare’s QR codes on promotional materials.”
(Saying the entertainment industry is a major client of a “new” technology is like saying you are raising your series A round from a bunch of “smart” restaurant money.)
ShareSquare’s CEO Matthias Galica says, “We’re seeing the market really accelerate.”
“Galica says his company is quickly closing on about $1.5 million in funding to ensure that it can capitalize on what he says is a crucial time for the QR space.”
(Cause there’s no time to waste getting behind this freight train!)
Gigaom concludes: “It could well be that both QR and NFC have widespread adoption, but in a world of ever-increasing mobile technology, there may not be enough room on the average consumer’s radar for two features that are so similar. That may be the real reason why QR companies see this summer as a now-or-never moment: They’re hoping QR will be the first to grab a place in the sun, and in consumer’s minds, ahead of NFC.”