QR Codes

@dmolsen had a great post about QR codes the other day. It reminded me that I had been tossing a similar post around in my head for a while and it was time to write it.

I think QR codes are a massive waste of time. They’re over hyped, a pain to use, and just not that interesting. Here three examples of why QR codes are a waste of time, and why I’m sick of hearing about them:

1. Back in January, I came across an article in the alumni magazine of a New England independent school. The article was an alumni profile and highlighted some of the work he was doing for this school specifically the new QR code he had created for the school.

Excited, I pulled out my iPhone. Downloaded a QR app on a slow 3G signal. Snapped a photo of the code and waited for the magic.

The code brought me to the school’s Website. Not a mobile version of the Web site, but the school’s Web site.

2. Riding on a Metro bus in Washington D.C., I saw a QR code on a poster of the bus route. Thinking it would give me a similar map formatted for a mobile phone, I searched through my iPhone apps trying to find the QR code app that I had downloaded back in January. Sifting through folders with my thumb, I finally came across it, and snapped a photo.

It brought me to a mobile site that asked for my comments as to the quality of my Metro experience.

3. We own a Ford and got one of their magazines in the mail the other day. In the market for a new car, I saw a QR code next to a photo of one of the new Ford Explorers, and I tried to give it a shot. Sifting through the folders on my iPhone again, I could not find the QR code app that I had downloaded sixth months ago.

I gave up.

Investing in QR codes at this moment is a total waste resources. Right now the technology isn’t well implemented, does not meet consumer expectations, and the readers is not seamlessly integrated into smartphones. Until I can take my phone, just take a photo, and the be quickly and automatically brought to content that is interesting, useful, and exclusively available through that code, then there’s really no point.

Frankly, I have no idea how education could use these things. Campus maps? Maybe, but only if you’re a huge university with a lot of acreage. Stories about buildings? Not compelling. It is rare case that a building on a college campus is compelling and interesting. Free screen savers or other give-a-ways? Now you’re thinking too highly of yourself and reading your own headlines.

Save your money. Save your time. Save your resources. Skip the QR codes.

7 thoughts on “QR Codes

  1. lol “Now you’re thinking too highly of yourself and reading your own headlines. ”

    I think QR codes are just starting to hit the mainstream in the US where more than just techies are recognizing them. Not bleeding edge anymore, but still not far from that point. That said, I agree that the examples you gave are poor implementations.

    QR codes are incredibly easy to generate and incorporate into print and digitial media, though. Given that fact, here’s a quick example of a potentially useful QR code.

    Alumni/friends magazine article has a small ad encouraging a “Like” of the institution on Facebook. That ad includes the url of the Facebook Page and a QR code that points to that same url. A person familiar with QR codes that has their smartphone handy can access and “Like” the page that way if they are so inclined. Someone else can type in the url on their computer of choice.

    The same idea could be incorporated into a PowerPoint, HD digital display board, etc.

    Will it get used? Not much time involved in trying it, and easy enough to track with QR generators like bit.ly

    School have an Android app? QR codes are a common way for Android users to go to an app install page. Click the install button at http://www.appbrain.com/app/tunein-radio/tunein.player and it will pop up a box that includes a QR code.

    QR codes can be used for things beyond urls, too, to load phone numbers, etc. Those are, imo, still bleeding edge uses here in the US. Time will tell if that catches on.

  2. You summed it up quite nicely. Like you, I have to dig around my apps every time and remind myself which of the gazillion I found worked best the last time. I just don’t see that process sticking. Now if it meant that I could get a discount on something (waived application, free shirt at bookstore) I would be much more inclined to go through the trouble.

    The technology has been around for almost two decades. Cheers to not getting distracted by the latest shiny object!

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