I have made no secret of my disaffection with QR (Quick Response) Codes. You know them as the funny looking little square that you’ve noticed popping up in advertisements in print, billboards, the web and even on television. Although the technology is new to many Americans, it has actually been in use since the 1990’s having been used in Japanese automobile manufacturing factories as an inventory control tool.
In my experience QR codes are clumsy, and don’t work as often as they do work. The smartphone QR code readers are not great and I frequently have to shoot a QR code multiple times in order to get it to ‘register’. For marketers and companies that wish to more deeply engage current and potential customers, QR codes can end up being more harmful than helpful. And asking your prospect or customer to make excessive efforts in order to get information on your company or offer is hardly a path to a consumer-friendly experience. I’m not saying QR codes do not work at all – just that they do not work well.
So if QR codes are to meet their demise something has to be there to replace them – and it has to be better. Near Field Communications (NFC) very well could be the answer. From http://www.Wikipedia.com: ‘NFC, allows for simplified transactions, data exchange, and wireless connections between two devices in close proximity to each other, usually by no more than a few centimeters. It is expected to become a widely used system for making payments by smartphone in the United States. Many smartphones currently on the market already contain embedded NFC chips that can send encrypted data a short distance (“near field”) to a reader located, for instance, next to a retail cash register. Shoppers who have their credit card information stored in their NFC smartphones can pay for purchases by waving their smartphones near or tapping them on the reader, rather than bothering with the actual credit card’.
David Pogue in his excellent column Thursday in the New York Times discusses the relationship between NFC and Google Wallet – http://nyti.ms/nPdh7C. It’s interesting that NFC technology is nearly ten years old and is still being finessed. In fact in the U.S. the current generation of NFC technology is only available on Sprint’s Google Nexus – and admittedly this is NFC 1.0.
For those of you that prefer Katie Boehret’s video review (she also has a written column from Thursday’s Wall Street Journal) that can be found here – http://on.wsj.com/oK7we8
But there have to be many people who like me would welcome the day when we could use a digital wallet and have our phone (which is with us all the time anyway) be able to do so much more when it comes to purchasing goods, receiving timely offers, as well as to request information easily and in a timely fashion.
It’s the wave of the near future. Are you ready?