Interesting times for QR codes? Metro QR Codes

QR codes (2D barcodes) have been front of mind for me recently, partly for the wrong reasons:

Malicious QR Codes, QR Codes that might unleash some malware on your phone, parroted by many outlets, including this piece by TechCrunch while EConsultancy wonders whether the link with malware could damage perceptions of QR Codes amongst consumers, pointing out that two thirds of consumers don’t know what they are anyway.

For balance here’s QR code booster Eismann O’Reilly’s reality check on the panic.

Then there was this opinion piece from Sean X Cummings, with more in the ‘why QR Codes Must Die’ vein (Google the phrase, plenty to read!). The best point from it being:

“People will not adopt a technical solution that serves to replace a manual task, if that solution is less efficient than the manual task it replaces.”

I’ve kvetched before on this blog about dumb QR codes that only take you to a site’s homepage too.

On the other hand, I saw an in-the-flesh example of QR codes done right. Here’s an ad (there are severalĀ ‘shelves’ on other walls too) from a metro station in Prague. Metro QR Codes are going after the drugstore category (a departure from their usual consumer durables focus) with this take on drugstore shelves. Scan the code, go to the product page on a mobile optimised site (helps that there’s at least 2G signal down at platform level of the metro). They’re offering free next day delivery too, to remove that obstacle. Of course a short URL would probably work just as well as the QR code.

For more on some of the latest retail developments, including a few using QR codes in the UK, read this from Neville Hobson.

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