QR codes are the key to the mobile lifestyle and soon they will be embedded in everything from cereal boxes to billboards to… well… hold that thought. After years of extolling the virtues of QR codes, Google has suddenly dropped their use in favor of the higher-tech but more expensive to implement NFC tags!
QR codes are those square bar codes that look like magnified pixilated Space Invaders from a 1978 arcade game. They are set up to be scanned with a smartphone and act as a hyperlink to whereverland. NFCs, by comparison, are not just a pattern to be printed but an actual physical circuit that works like an RFID. NFC enabled mobile devices only need come into proximity with a reader and the transaction is triggered.
Transitioning from a technology that can be generated by printing to one that requires circuitry may be a more futuristic solution, but it is actually counter-productive to marketers who were just starting to integrate QR codes into their email campaigns. Innovative email marketers who have been devising ground-breaking new uses for QR now find themselves out in the cold.
No wailing and gnashing of teeth is going to dissuade Google in its plan to dominate the multi-zillion dollar instant financial transaction business. QR codes have disappeared from Google Dashboard and due to the fact that the entire industry surfs in Google’s wake, it seems as if QR may soon be as relevant as Microsoft Bob.
A number of important issues dealing with proximity triggers remain unresolved. These range from the potential unwanted triggering of an undesired financial transaction simply by walking by a reader, all the way to the speculative questions posed by the prospect of similar RFID technology in U.S. passports. Having a document that broadcasts citizenship could be seen to be dangerous when traveling in countries known to harbor terrorists: A bomb could be set in a mailbox or plant stand and set to explode only when an American walks by.
Although owners of NFC enabled Nexus S phones don’t have to worry about being blown up – not only because the concept is far-fetched but because the phone is a reader only. A greater concern is the wisdom of turning your back on a technology that is easily deployed through a printer to one that has to be physically shipped and affixed. Email marketers will certainly agree that dropping QR in favor of NFC is not the friendliest idea ever to issue from the Googleplex.
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