Ever Tried to Download a QR Code Reader?

By | October 5, 2010

QR codes are the hot topic these days, and for printers, they offer an opportunity to add value to their core revenue source  — print. So we blog about QR codes. We talk about QR codes to customers. We want to generate excitement so that customers will reprint their marketing collateral and corporate identity materials in order to add QR codes and develop marketing campaigns that include QR codes in order to take advantage of them.

But have you ever tried to download a QR code reader yourself? Or even more frustrating, multiple readers?

For some readers, such as the Kaywa reader, you simply Google “kaywa QR reader” and it comes up at the top of the search results. But others, it could take you 20 minutes — if you find it at all. You’ll get articles, blog posts, and industry discussions about the readers, but where is the reader itself? In trying to find the download link for one QR code reader, I actually had to email the company and ask where it was.

If you’re going to be promoting QR codes to your customers, make sure you’re thinking like a customer. Think like someone who has never used a QR code, who has never downloaded a reader, and who has no idea how to go about testing whether QR codes makes sense for their business. If you think your customers and prospects can just Google a reader and explore QR codes easily on their own, try it yourself sometime.

As you begin to add QR codes into your mix of services, make it easy on your customers. Consider adding links to your website so they can download QR readers and access QR code generators. Provide them with instructions on how to use their readers once they have them. Make it easy for them to explore the possibilities.

Don’t leave it up to your customers and prospects to figure it out. All if takes is one frustrating Google search to destroy weeks or months worth of marketing effort.

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10 thoughts on “Ever Tried to Download a QR Code Reader?

  1. Brett Knobloch


    I couldn’t agree more. While QR codes are novel, they won’t receive widespread acceptance until readers are loaded onto all mobile devices and a bit of training occurs. Marketers will need to incentivize users with lots of value in order to get them to endure the extra effort. I’ve blogged on QR code readers a year ago and they remain a novelty.

  2. Clay Forsberg


    Excellent piece. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for the last couple months as I’ve had more exposure to QR Codes. It’s too easy to get “hooked into the hype.”

    Case in point. I talked to my daughter, age 20, about QR Codes and she gave me a very luke-warm response. “They’re not out there enough and nobody is much paying attention.” It’s easy to dismiss her thoughts as just GenY ramblings. However … she works for Apple!

  3. Noel Ward

    A magazine I get had a single 2″ wide column someplace near the front of the last issue, explaining that some ads might contain this weird thing called a QR code. Buried in with the stuff that no one reads at the front of the book, I somehow doubt that many saw it.

    And a colleague this week at Graph Expo related explaining a QR code to his 20-something daughter. Her response? “Sounds like a lot of work to me. Easier and faster to Google the company name.”

    Continue to color me skeptical on QR codes. And I saw something recently that will make QR codes look like a dot matrix printer compared to an iGen or Indigo.

  4. Heidi Tolliver-Nigro Post author

    @Clay, one of the issues possibly is that people aren’t doing with QR codes what they have the potential to do. If people are simply using them to send people to mobile pages (or even non-mobile pages) — like a URL shortener — then they don’t add much value. But I did see one QR code that was actually interesting. It was on a book that took you on a visual tour of the value of the book. So see the book on a shelf or at a friend’s house, snap the code, then watch the author talk up his book, show examples, demonstrate technology, at the height of your interest. When people start using QR codes as a tool rather than a gimmick, I think we’ll start seeing more interest in them.

  5. Brad Settlemyer

    QR codes saves a customer much grief! I was at Best Buy over the weekend looking at LCD/LED TVs. I was present as a customer asked an employee his opinion of two comparably priced models from different manufacturers. The answer from an obviously undertrained employee, as is too common these days, was based on misinformation. As the employee walked away the gentleman asked me if I had an opinion. Noticing that most of the price tags, with little or no details, did display QR codes I scanned both of them for him using my iPhone. The Best Buy web pages opened quickly and contained answers to all his questions, including multiple reviews by people that owned each of the models. This made for a quick decision as the model the employee recommended had terrible reviews. Please let people know that even if it did take 20 minutes to get one working on your phone that just one succesful use like this and anyone would consider it time well spent!

  6. Michael Schulz

    Great post.
    Codes are great where there is a specific application, like extending a book or replying to an invitation.
    However, the effort to download a reader app is considerable, not to mention that some of them aren’t even free (in the IPhone app store), so it may in some instances be worthwhile to not just place a code but also indicate, why it is worthwhile to scan it.

  7. Ria breuer

    Two other great examples for the use of QR codes:
    1. In Warsaw they had benches along a main street in the center to promote the Chopin year and just opened museum. Each bench had a specific topic and the QR code chissled in the granite led to more info about the topic on the museum website
    2. The QR code on the house for sale notice leads to the website with interior photos, asking ptice and all other info abt the house.

  8. Cary Wheeler

    Great discussion – I’ve sent people to BeeTagg for the reader, extensive listing of supported SmartPhone manufacturers and models. My issue is that sending customers to certain sites also is sending them to companies that would perform the tasks I want to sell to my customer. InterlinkOne and The Ace Group have very interesting and complete sections on their websites re:QR Codes but also sell the same services I want to sell to my customer – like sending my customer to another print shop. I’ve done a few Networking Group meeting presentations on QR Codes and people are blown away by the app, but no one yet that wants to pursue this mode of marketing, aside from a few customers that now have me print a QR Code on their business card that directs the viewer to the company website

  9. Lou Berceli

    2D and QR Codes = the CROSS-MEDIA COMMUNICATIONS BRIDGE for any and all Printed Media for the Traceability, Mobile Marketing, e-Commerce and e-Info marketplaces.

    2D Codes used with Labels and Packaing such as Datamatrix and others are becoming the norm for Traceability for a wide range of products

    2D Code developments within the industrial / commercial to consumer traceablility markets are also rapidly advancing with most global wireless providers, Cell Phone Manufacturers, Mobile and e-marketing groups, Ad agencies and many Global Brands which are now engaging in 2D Code applications.

    2D Codes for Scanable / Clickable Print Media will become as popular as TEXTING and Mobile Wireless e-mail has within our consumer cultures.

    Best regards and Good Networking,

    Lou Berceli (USA) and Elia Blei (Italy)
    Co-founders of 2D Codes for Global Media.


  10. JumpScan QR

    The rap against QR codes is that they are a solution in search of a problem. That’s why we developed JumpScan.com – so that QR codes could begin to realize some of their potential in linking the physical and virtual worlds. We recently added Facebook feeds, Twitter and Flickr, along with contact info, email and phone. It’s in beta but this provides an easy, one-click way to connect with people on the go.

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