November 15, 2010
QR Codes vs. Microsoft Tag Reader – let the games begin!
Will they peacefully coexist like they do in the most recent issue of Evansville Living Magazine (see page 31 for a QR Code on a Roger’s Jewelers ad and page 84 for a MS Tag on a Deaconess Hospital ad)? Will one technology supercede the other in widespread use and technological prowess? I have no idea. But the development of this technology and the acceptance of it by the marketing community mean that continued customer engagement is still at the forefront of how businesses desire to market to their audience.
Instead of shouting at their audience via TV, radio, newspaper or other print ads, companies are now seeking two-way engagement from the people they are trying to reach. Interactivity has evolved along with the technology that makes it possible. QR Codes and Microsoft Tags are an interesting step forward in that evolution of interactivity. Barcode technology has long been the backbone of the logistics industry but now these Barcode 2.0 technologies are helping companies better market to their targeted audiences.
Here is my list of differences (by no means should this be construed as an exhaustive list):
- QR Codes have pervasive use and widespread acceptance in Japan. I don’t live in Japan and in deference to all of my Japanese friends, things that are wildly popular in other countries don’t necessarily have the same rabid fanbase as they do here in the States (Hasselhof, marmite, eating live squid are just a few foreign successes that come to mind).
- Not one generator exists which means that using the standards developed by Toyota, anyone can create a QR Code generator. Diversification of vendors and the inherent competition is usually a good thing (see the free enterprise system).
- Not one reader exists which means that there are varying levels of quality and acceptance by different mobile device vendors. This could be good or bad but I predict that one or two readers will gain the market share and this won’t be that big of an issue once things settle down.
- QR Codes are boring in their pixellated black and white boxes.
- QR Codes can be created from any number of other applications (like Google Places) making them far more pervasive.
- Microsoft has made creating, tracking, and maintaining their tag technology ridiculously easy. This is how I imagine all of Microsoft’s products should be. Easy enough for the end user to accept, robust enough for enterprises to benefit from and adopt.
- Tracking through Microsoft’s Tag Manager site is brilliant. And free. And easy to use.
- But it’s Microsoft – when are they going to ruin it by trying monetize it at the expense of usability.
- Microsoft Tags are pretty in their 4 color triangles and can be rendered as black and white if your printing requirements are restrictive.
- You must go through Microsoft to generate a tag. That could be their downfall. As soon as they make their specs public, I think you will see a wider acceptance.
So who wins? As much as I try to avoid Microsoft, they have really turned out a good product. If they can continue to offer this service with no strings and free of charge, they’re gonna win. But in reality, the savvy companies and the savvy consumers who are already using this technology are already winning. Yay, everybody gets a trophy!