I’ve been reading tons of industry news lately about the foundational impact of mobile on consumer and business behavior.
First, EFI announced today that its PrintMe Mobile has been named winner of the 2012 Mobile Merit Award in the mobile services, enterprise products/services category. PrintMe Mobile enables direct Wi-Fi printing from iPads, iPhones and Android devices from within the application directly to any existing network printer regardless of brand. Enterprise printing from mobile devices? Didn’t that happen years ago?
Then I read how Facebook is struggling to explain to investors its inability to monetize its mobile application. This oversight has been called all sorts of things, including a “critical problem” and “the elephant in the pitch room.” I agree. With the lifestyle impact of mobile, that truly is mystery.
Then there is the study from Ipsos MediaCT (“Catching the Tablet Wave”) showing that penetration via mobile tablets is on the steady rise, especially among some very coveted consumer demographics. According to the study, overall tablet PC ownership increased from 10% in September 2011 to 16% in March 2012, and among individuals in households earning $100,000+ per year, it increased from 21% to 28%.
Tablet ownership matters so much because it is impacting every aspect of life from couponing to TV watching. ABC just announced that is using Yahoo’s IntoNow app to allow viewers to interact with its TV programming on their tablet devices — again. Viewers can use the app to talk about the show on social networks, get videos, enter sweepstakes, and participate in other interactive activities. This time, its ABC’s freshman drama “Revenge,” but the app has been used in a Republican presidential debate and by Pepsi during a Major League baseball game. Seems perfectly normal to me.
At I’m reading this influx of news stories, I’m simultaneously reading comments in one of the digital printing discussion forums in which participants are arguing that QR Codes will fail as a mobile response mechanism because they are ugly. Now there’s a jolting contrast for you!
It reminds me of when my husband, who is the facilities director for a private high school, gets on rants about managing this million-dollar capital investment project here, putting out fires on that half-million restroom renovation project there, dealing with the HR issues involved in the major restructuring of his staff over there, and while all the pieces are swirling and everyone is ducking and weaving, he turns around because there is a teacher tugging on his shirt tail complaining, “My erasers aren’t clean! My erasers aren’t clean!”
Mobile (or lack of attention thereof) is impacting everything from enterprise printing to TV-watching behavior to the ability to launch one of the most famous IPOs in business history. Yet some people in the printing industry think QR Codes will fail because they’re ugly? Yes, and there are enough of them to spawn discussions that span over days.
People used to argue that digital printing wouldn’t take off either because it wasn’t as high quality as offset. But eventually, functionality won out, and even before digital achieved the near or full offset parity that it has achieved today, it had already become a disruptive technology.
So, too, with mobile 2d barcodes like QR Codes. I think the number of proprietary codes will first explode and then greatly diminish, but I think claims that their appearance and “intrusion” upon the graphic design are short sighted. Perhaps by printers or marketers who misunderstand or don’t fully understand how to use them.
Functionality will trump here, and if it doesn’t, then perhaps your marketing clients are not using 2d mobile barcodes the right way.