QR Codes vs. Microsoft Tag Reader Predicting the Winner

posted in: Business | 10

QR Codes vs. Microsoft Tag Reader – let the games begin!

Microsoft Tag vs QR Codes: who will win
Microsoft Tag vs QR Codes: who will win?

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.

See my list of 10 practical ways to use QR Codes and Microsoft Tags

Here is my list of differences (by no means should this be construed as an exhaustive list):

QR Code targeting www.signsoveramerica.com
QR Code targeting signsoveramerica.com

QR Codes

  • 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 Tag targeting www.signsoveramerica.com
Microsoft Tag targeting signsoveramerica.com

Microsoft Tags

  • 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!

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10 Responses

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Eric Andersen, Eric Andersen, Dana Nelson, SignARama Evansville, SignARama Evansville and others. SignARama Evansville said: The Signs of Business┬╗ QR Codes vs. Microsoft Tag Reader Predicting the Winner http://t.co/L2bpCub #QRCodes […]

  2. Casey,

    I’m the community manager for Microsoft Tag and I just wanted to clarify one thing – Microsoft Tag is free to use and Tag’s basic services will remain free. There’s more info at http://tag.microsoft.com/resources/faq.aspx on the details but on your third bullet point for Microsoft Tag you seemed quite concerned about the monetization of the services that we offer now. I just wanted to let you know that the basic services available now will remain free.

    Thanks for the mention in your post if you have any additional questions or want to reach out to chat just shoot me an email. :)

  3. @Elliot – Thanks for the heads-up. Feel free to attribute my monetization comment to being rabidly paranoid!

    Do you see this as a competition between two technologies? What does the MS community think are the top benefits of using Tag vs QR Codes?


  4. I think there were a couple key words in Mr. Lemeneger’s comments: “basic services.” Basic services, according to the MS Tag site, include “creating an individual color, black and white and customizable Tag; establishing a link from a Tag to (a) a URL, (b) a vCard, (c) a dialer, or (d) text strings.” Important to note is that tracking your tag to determine its success or failure may or may not be a basic service. This part isn’t so clear. The site also notes, “Microsoft may elect to start charging for future or additional value-added features or services related to Tag.” If I have to read between the lines, based on Mr. Lemeneger’s choice words and the MS Tag site’s omission of language on tracking your tags, I would wager that this is will be a fee-based “premium service.” But if Mr. Lemeneger could help clarify this, I think we’d all be appreciative.

  5. Good call, Rob. Their language definitely suggests a monetization plan at some point in the future. Mr. Lemenager, the floor is yours…

  6. Thanks. While I appreciate the free tracking service in place now, if they intend to begin charging it would be pretty tragic if I put MS Tags on thousands of items and then, once they “flip the switch” and begin charging for tracking service, the fee was something relatively steep compared to similar tracking services for standard QR codes. I would then be stuck with a tag I couldn’t track for ROI purposes. if they do intend to monetize the tracking feature, it would be nice to have some idea on pricing before I paint myself into a corner.

  7. Rick Wall

    QR tags are wonderful but you still need to expose than to everyone. A great platform for that is the new website http://www.whocanihire.com which is a platform for small business to market themselves (QR tags) through social media potentially reaching thousands of customers.

  8. Thanks, Rick. While I appreciate the comment, how does your site utilize QR codes for marketing?

  9. […] until someone creates a vectorized QR Code generator, (c’mon folks, Microsoft’s Tags are vectors by default), here’s how to vectorize a bit.ly created image in Adobe […]