QR Codes – Are they dead, or slowly dying?

QR Codes have been around for a little while, but more recently they’ve been starting to disappear…..

They were originally designed by Denso Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota, and were used as a tracking system. They were preferred over original bar codes because they can hold about 100 times more information than a standard bar code. QR Codes are used to connect offline customers with online content in an engaging and interactive way. To begin with they captivated a Smart Phone generation and were very clever ways to use your phone and get to specific website pages or offers. However, some of the functions or potential were possibly lost or maybe just not particularly relevant to the end customer. Perhaps, they were a solution to a non-existent marketing problem?

It seemed like they began to burn out long before they ever really took off. There are a fair few reasons why this could have been;

How long it takes to use –

For a QR Code to work, it needs to be placed somewhere that can easily be photographed by the user, who would have to have a smartphone. For the user to be able to actually scan the QR Code, the user would need a QR reader app downloaded on their smartphone. Then, once scanned the QR Code will direct you to a webpage, so the user will need to be connected to the internet. So for the average smartphone user, the process will look something like this;

  • Get your phone out of your pocket
  • Find your QR Reader if you have one
  • Realise most people don’t have QR Readers because no one really uses them
  • Find a QR Reader on the app store
  • Wait for it to download
  • Launch the app and wait for the camera to initiate
  • Hold the phone up to the QR Code
  • Wait for the browser to launch…

So, it seems like opening the phone browser and typing the name of the company into Google makes more sense. QR Codes are very useful and are also an incredibly good idea, but no one wants to spend that much time scanning them. Alex Kutsishin, Founder and President of FiddleFly said this about QR Codes:

“If there ever was a technology that was frustratingly unpopular despite it’s true potential to improve the way consumers and businesses interact, it would be the QR Code”

Misuse –

Marketers have been completely misusing QR Codes. Unfortunately, most people who decide they want to use a QR Code on their advertising don’t really know how to use it properly or what the point in the technology is. They just see other people doing it and they don’t really want to be left behind. This just opens up a whole world of improper uses of QR Codes.

Co-opting –

Because the technology to create QR Codes is free and open-sourced, anyone with an internet connection can make a code that could take the user to a phishing site, to transmit malicious code or access information on the phone. And QR Codes can be printed to a sticker, so they can be placed over legitimate QR Codes and no-one would really ever know until it was too late.

Visuals –

QR Codes are, well, UGLY!! So your company would spend hours and hours on your marketing literature and then potentially drag it down by the appearance of this code. A few companies have been able to work their logo in to the image and there are ways to make them a different colour, but does it make that much difference?

Put simply, QR Codes are dying. They’re dying a very slow death because a lot of marketing still uses them. The only way to really save them is to let them die. Enough people have had either a bad experience with QR Codes or just don’t have the patience to use QR Codes so they won’t make a comeback. People want information fast with little effort this day in age. QR Codes just don’t seem to be that solution, do they?


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