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No, Google did not kill the QR Code but your bad mobile marketing ideas will


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wayne sutton qr code

Google did not kill the QR Code

A few weeks ago Gizmodo writer Adrian Covert and a few other tech blogs started a QR Code war with various QR Code evangelist. It started with Google announcing they were going to stop using QR Codes with Google Places in support for NFC technology. That’s it, that’s all. Google was going to stop using QR Codes for those Google Places window clings. Simple. This decision is smart by Google and it’s supporting where they are investing resources into such as mobile payments and using NFC technology in the Nexus S and future Android powered smartphones. Google has also recently joined the NFC Forum. With that being said you would think a good inspiring blogger or journalist would write a blog post title about Google’s move from QR Code to NFC would read something like this: “Google ends QR support for Google Places switches to NFC technology” or something like what ReadWriteWeb posted “Google Ditches Barcodes for NFC” but what started the QR Code mini war was post titles like “QR Codes: Goodbye and Good Riddance” from Gizmodo. What this is simply put, “sensational technology journalism” for SEO, eyeballs and comments. It’s what I call “the game”, we know it, good bloggers do it all the time and smart bloggers get a way with it. Example I could write a post called “Gizmodo to join to the dead pool after site traffic continues to decline due to terrible redesign.” Would I be right? No, the title catches your attention and sounds half way right if you look at their initial site traffic after the relaunch.

Captain of the QR Code and founder of Tappinn QR Code platfrom, Nick Ford ways in on the Gizmodo post and you can tell he’s upset. I don’t blame him, Gizmodo is messing with his money/company with post titles like that. You can see his reaction in the video below.

Here’s another post called “Why the QR Code is Fine and Gizmodo is Full of S***” A quote from the post:

“The article, QR Codes: Goodbye and Good Riddance, is ridiculous.”

Google did not invent the QR Code

FYI, Google did not invent the QR Code and therefore can not kill the QR Code. A QR Code history lesson:

“The QR code was a kind of two dimensional symbology, and the DENSO WAVE (established under the name of DENSO) developed with a main objective of “Code read easily for the reader” in 1994″ via

Favorite Places on Google

But for a lot of people their first encounter with a QR Code was a Google Places window cling that Google randomly mailed to over 100,000 businesses in 2009. Don’t believe me? Read the post here: “Explore a whole new way to window shop, with Google and your mobile phone” via the Official Google Blog. Now let’s backtrack a little. QR Codes were invented in 1994, Google was founded in 1996, just sayin. Here’s an excerpt from the Google Blog explaining Google’s orginal plans for the QR Code:

This launch is part of our overall effort — online and offline — to provide you with the best local business results whenever you’re trying to figure out where to go, whether it’s a trendy Cuban restaurant in Philly, a comics shop in L.A., a hip hotel in NYC or a little bit of photographic history in Rochester, N.Y.

. Google was on the right path with QR Codes just a few years to early in my opinion.

Google is experimenting

Google can remove the beta label from gmail and other products but as a technology leader they’re still in beta mode. If you’re an marketing agency, social media consultant, national brand that wants to know what the next big thing is or what technology trends you should be following Google may not be your best option immediately. Remember Google Wave? I do and I miss it.

During SXSW 2011 I had a chance to ask Marissa Mayer, VP, Search Products and User Experience at Google about my post “How Google plans to dominate location in 2011 with 9 different products” and it seemed that Google was all over the place. Her response, “Google is experimenting to find the best solution to fit with the company future plans”, or something like that. So, in 2009 Google was experimenting with QR Codes, in 2010-11 Google is now experimenting with NFC technology in their smartphones. I guess you can look for a new batch of window clings in the mail soon after you purchased a new smartphone with NFC technology next year or in two years when your contract is up. Also note Google Android Market Place supports QR Codes for installing apps.

One more thing, Bing just launched a new business portal smiler to Google Places with QR Code support. FYI, Google makes a great search engine at

QR Codes at Sxsw QR Codes at Sxsw

QR codes at SxswQR codes at Sxsw

But why all the “Good Riddance” to QR Code post?

Here’s the number one reason why some people are already tired of QR Codes and it’s not because you can’t customize them with shinny colors like a Microsoft tag or you can’t find an app to scan a QR Code with. The number one reason most people are frustrated with QR Codes already is because of a bad mobile experience after scanning a QR Code. Above are a few QR Codes from SXSW, I didn’t scan all of QR Codes I saw at SXSW because there were way too many, but let’s say I scan the QR Code on the T-shirt and it takes me to a flash website that I can’t see on my iPhone or takes forever to load on an Android powered phone? I would be frustrated, like what’s the point, you’re better off putting your company URL on the T-shirt vs a giant QR Code.

My point being if you’re going to have a user complete any type of action such as, stop what they’re doing, open an app on their smartphone, scan a QR Code or check-in you better provide some value or good mobile content/experience or something interesting or cool. That will not only make a brand connection but increase word of mouth online and offline about your QR Code marketing efforts.

QR Codes are just starting to take off in USA. Just take a look at the “QR Code” google trend search volume from 2008 to 2011 below.

google qr code search trends

With that being said, if QR Codes die, it won’t because of Google but because poor QR Code marketing and implementation from you.

My QR Code Defense

As you can tell, yes I’m a QR Code evangelist as well and I’m launching a few more QR Code projects soon.

In closing I could be wrong about QR Codes but I doubt it and unlike my love for Google Wave I’m not following Google by ending support for QR Codes. In reference to NFC technology, I believe NFC technology has it’s purposed and will be used for mobile payments along with other online / offline technology mashups with location based services and more in the future…

Here are some QR Code links and resources


How do you plan to use QR Codes?

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