Stop trying to make QR codes happen

In a world of NFC and mobile apps, do we really need to keep trying to make QR codes take off?
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

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".

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