I don’t know what form QR codes are going to take in the next 5-10 years, but I’ve decided that — until something else replaces them — they’re the real deal.
Forget the clumsy YouTube videos of how hard they are to use. I’ve seen those videos, and there was a time they represented the real user experience. Not anymore. I take out my iPhone, launch i-nigma, hold the phone over the code, and before I’ve even got it centered, the browser has launched. I’ve scanned pretty much everything that’s come across my path lately, and only problem I’ve had is when they link to larger videos that take forever to play on my 3G phone.
In case you’re wondering which of your competitors are inundating me with these codes, I would venture to say almost none. I’ve been scanning QR codes on my direct mail here at the house, most of which is consumer mail. Here in the Pennsylvania heartland, I have trouble finding QR codes out in “real life,” but fortunately, they come to me in my mailbox.
But the codes I’ve been most impressed with are not from my mailbox. They are in the field and have some kind of really functional purpose. One of my favorites is the QR codes now being put on building permits in New York City. You walk by, and if you want to know what’s going on, you snap the code and find out. You aren’t going to type in something like www.newyorkstate.gov/housingdepartment/newyorkcity/2011buildingpermits/hotshotbuilders/project102938484747474747. You’ll snap the code and be taken directly to the permit.
Other personal faves (from a functionality standpoint) are codes designed to take you to pages where you can download apps for your phone. Like the Sherwin Williams Blackberry app that allows users to capture real world colors on their cellphones and then mix up a paint to match.
Marketers using QR codes are already moving quickly past novelty to real functionality. Even in the past three or four months, I’m seeing widerspread adoption and greater functionality. Marketers are figuring this thing out — quickly.