Should I care about QR codes? I posited the question on Twitter today…and it seems I shouldn’t care. I’m glad to know I’m not alone.
QR codes (or quick-response codes) are like barcodes that can be scanned by a mobile device’s camera and read with an app. As I understand it (and I don’t understand much about these types of things), the cool-looking black squares can be encoded to include any kind of data. They can be used to direct someone to a website, contact information or a map, product details, a coupon, a Facebook fan page and more.
The first time I saw a QR code was about a year ago on a business card for a tech startup. I didn’t and still don’t have a QR code reader on my smartphone so I never bothered to scan that card to see where it took me, but I’d put money on it being a direct link to the guy’s website. Big whoop. That saves me maybe 2 seconds of entering the address into my web browser.
Marketers are now putting these pesky buggers everywhere. They show up frequently on magazine pages, but who reads printed media anymore? I can just touch a link to the same content on my iPad newsstand magazine. I’ve noticed them on the windows of restaurants and retail shops, but then I’m on the move and can’t be bothered to stop and scan with the hopes it yields something worthwhile. I even hear they have a giant one on top of a barn targeted to airplane passengers. I won’t even touch that silliness.
Until today, I thought I was just a non-geek who didn’t get QR codes. Perhaps these ugly black boxes are really cool and I’m missing out on something awesome. Researching for this blog, however, I found out I’m not alone. Even some tech-savvy marketing folks agree with me. From memeburn: “QR codes are not the Next Big Thing (at least, not yet).” Even better, from iMediaConnection: “From the relative lack of public understanding of what they even are, to the dearth of creativity in their usage, the QR code is destined to become just the little box that geek built.”
My sentiments exactly. Can’t we just agree to stop already with QR codes? Yes, they are nifty and new but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are helpful or worthwhile. Until someone can show me value in stopping to scan that little black box when I’m reading a flyer, walking down the street, or flying in an airplane, I’m not downloading a damn QR reader.