Are QR codes Relevant?

You probably have seen QR Codes but have not known what in the heck to do with them. Well join the club. You are among the millions of Americans that have had this new engagement strategy foisted upon them by marketing types like .. Well me.

What are They?

A QR Code (Quick Response) is a matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by QR scanners, mobile phones with a camera, and smartphones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data.

Why Should We Care?

The gist of the QR Code is to have others scan that code into their phone or mobile device and have the recipient obtain more information or visit a website. The people of Japan are all about QR Codes and using them in their everyday life. Of course there are a thousand other ships that have launched in Japan that will never float here.

OK, Awkward

QR Code reading may enrich a users experience, but it is also a very awkward way to consume information.
1. You see the code at the store.
2. You scan the code.
3. You are taken to a website where you can buy the item.
4. Why don’t you just hand the item to the cashier?

Similarly strange uses are popping up everywhere. Perfume manufacturers add QR Codes to magazine art which take the reader to a video of a person spraying the perfume on their neck.
Wow! What an effective waste of my time!

Danger Will Robinson

On top of the massive wastes of time, the easiest scheme out there is to take a QR Code and point the visitor to a site where they unwittingly download and install your software (or a virus). QR Codes are not always a tame way to get the “message” across.

Mobile is Hot, QR is Not

While you will read about QR Codes becoming a mainstay in America, many fail to understand that while there are millions of mobile phones out there in use today, only a small fraction of them have cameras. Of that number, only a minuscule number have both cameras and QR Code reading apps. And of that infinitesimal number, most of us are not interested in the awkward and time wasting engagement strategy of the QR Code.

Look at Bump

Even wireless applications that require only a tap and a flick of the wrist (Bump for iPhone) to share contact information are rarely used in real life networking due to their awkwardness. We still hand off business cards because you simply don’t know that the model of the phone the other guy has in his pocket will be able to send you contact info. Even if the QR Code use in America becomes ubiquitous, it’s still just flat out strange to go to a random guy and ask “hey do you want to Bump?”

Should you do it?

In the big metros you may find a couple dozen, bored out of their mind zombies who scan your code and take action. In mid-America though, your efforts are best spent on traditional ways to grab attention and share contact details with others. Don’t get wrapped around the axel on this one guys.. Move along, there is nothing (yet) here to see.

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