Stop trying to make QR codes happen

Stop trying to make QR codes happen

Summary: In a world of NFC and mobile apps, do we really need to keep trying to make QR codes take off?

TOPICS: E-Commerce

They're on billboards, leaflets and now even on parking meters, but I continue to wonder why companies insist on using Quick Response (QR) codes, when there are many other easier methods of communication available.

(Credit: Parkmobile)

Parkmobile Australia announced that it was trialling a new mobile payment service with Yarra City Council in the Victorian suburb of Burnley, using "the latest QR code technology".

Once you register with Parkmobile, you can use the app, its website, the QR code, or just call the company to pay for your parking.

Given that there are so many options, the QR code seems to be the least efficient method of paying for parking. My question is, why include it at all, let alone make it the main feature to highlight for your new parking tech?

To Parkmobile's credit, the company does have the mobile payment option, and has indicated to our sister site CNET that it intends to explore near-field communications (NFC) options when the iPhone 5 is released.

The difficulty with QR codes is that they're awkward to use, take a bit of time to get right, and most people don't know how to use them at all. For example, Hoyts earlier this year upgraded its "La Premiere" luxury cinemas, placing a QR code on each table to let customers order food right from their seat. The problem being that, in order to be able to scan the QR code with your phone, you need adequate light. So if your phone has a flash, you'll annoy your fellow cinema patrons, and if it doesn't, then you're going hungry.

Forbes seems to be thinking along the same lines as me, questioning earlier this year whether, after 18 long years, we are finally seeing the demise of QR codes, because companies don't use them properly and most people don't know how to use them.

Just by looking at a comScore survey last year, you can see that in a one-month period, 14 million mobiles in the US were scanning QR codes. Which might sound a lot, but it's only 6 per cent of all mobile users in the US.

So, hopefully, with the rise of NFC and the fact that there's an app for just about everything nowadays, we will see the demise of QR codes. Yes, it was cool to be able to scan a code on a billboard and then decipher that code using your phone — but after five minutes, the novelty wears off and it's really just an inconvenience.

For businesses thinking QR codes are something people want to use, I say: "stop trying to make QR codes happen, it's not going to happen".

Topic: E-Commerce


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Its a matter of speed.

    Hey Josh, If you don't think that having a parking app quickly start a parking session thanks to the apps in-built handling of a QR code is the way to go, then punch in the 7 zone digit code into your iPhone. Or slower still, put $9 worth of coins into the Pay & Display machine an walk back to you car to put the ticket on your dashboard.

    The primary purpose of these Parkmobile codes is to locate the motorist and start a session with the appropriate tariffs and rules. Wednesday's launch with the City of Yarra was VERY successful and testament to the clever use of technology available on today's smartphones. QR codes might not be "happening" in in-flight magazine advertisements, but they are "happening" for Pay-By-App Parking.
  • QR code, tired and used up tech.

    Slow, quirky, awkward and easily replaceable.

    QR is a 15 year old 'grocery barcode' derivative, incredibly insecure, photobased technology.

    NFC, hopefully and properly implemented, ought to completely get rid of the use of this poorly equipped technology.

  • Maybe not the best way to use QR codes

    I think this is not the best way to use QR Codes. But that does not mean that they are useless. QR Codes are becoming more and more popular. QR Codes have their strength in some fields. In example they are very popular in web, they allow users to bookmark websites easily, and it is very simpel to add QR Code to your website using service like that generates QR Codes online
  • We need QR as long as mobile and traditional advertising exist together!

    What does this article and a bad QR Code campaign have in common? Neither are well thought out.

    Josh, your article, like others on the demise of QR Codes, is rubbish. It is true, that you can't just slap a QR Code on anything. Like all advertising, their implementation needs to be well thought out. Many advertisers are using them more effectively everyday and their popularity is on the rise.

    Companies that are using QR Codes to simply stand out and be different, without giving any consideration to how to engage mobile users on the other end, are the ones that don't benefit and are most discouraged.

    Maybe, QR Codes are like women - if you just use them, what kind of a relationship can you expect? But, if you embrace them - now there's a mutually beneficial relationship that can only get better!

    I've seen QR Codes last far too long to be a fad. As long as traditional advertising and mobile exist in the same space, we need QR - it's that simple. The next few years will demonstrate a surge in their use and the result will be better mobile experiences for all.

    So, Josh get ready for more codes and better experiences, whether you like it or not.

    Have a great weekend - All,
    Nick Palo
  • More like. Stop trying to "kill" QR Codes.

    Josh do you just write an article for the sake of writing, just create a buzz. Cause its seems everyone who is dissing QR codes has not idea what its used for.
    I don't think anyone who any idea what NFC is would compare it with QR codes.
    You need NFC hardware for it to interact with a phone. With Iphone refusing adopt NFC I don't think you will see NFCs in the market in the near future. Unless it becomes a standard just like Bluetooth in all phones. Yes many early adopters do exist, they are corporations making huge profits, I don't think small business and even parking companies can afford or see the value in the hardware costs.
    How do you actually use a QR code for paying for parking? have you thought about it. As far as I can see the only thing you can do is include a URL in the QR code that will directly send to the payment gateway.
    So its "YET another option" that costs NOTHING. If someone does not have their App and/or does not have mobile payment they have the only option of paying through the web. For that you need a URL. Now it would be much more harder to type in the url of their payment gateway QR code is much easier way of Copying a URL and also you can add a very very long url with specific information for a particular meter so that is becomes a one click option.

    QR codes will remain like QRNick said. It will still be used on Visiting Cards and Print ads
    I sometimes read a regional language newspaper when I drink a tea at a small tea shop in the suburbs. They have very small shops advertising for them so obviously they don't have QR codes in their ads.
    If I find something interesting, call me lazy but I have never typed in the phone number and the website email address. Since there is not 3G in those areas or sometimes I just cannot browse. I take picture of the ad
    I am still lazy to type on my phone but I don't mind reaching home opening the picture and typing it in my PC keyboard where I can type upwards of 80 words per minute sometimes reaching 130 words ;-).
    A QR code there would be very convenient.
    A QR code in visiting cards is essential. I remember Motorocker having a visiting Card scanner to save people typing in all the info into their phone contacts.
    A qr Code is much quicker and multi-colored textured cards could not be read on the motorola.
    QR codes is going to stay it will become a norm.
    Maha Rawj