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QR Codes are not a fad

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QR Codes are not a fad

It has been more than 4 years since we published this blog and we have answered many times to the same questions in different areas and forums. Over time we have reflected and researched about their possibilities, applications and limitations of QR codes

Today we dedicate the post to the "doomsayers", that species as necessary for the ecosystem as the scavenger animals

We have heard several times: "Hey, I think this QR codes is a fad and just as they have come they will go away".

Today we are going to say no, that QR Codes are not a fad, that they are here to stay and why, at the risk of being totally wrong.

Why we believe QR codes are not a fad


Doomsayer: "They are very limited. You can only put up one website."

The strength of QR-Codes lies in their simplicity. If the alternation of lines of different thicknesses gave rise to barcodes, the white/black squares within a 2D matrix allow a greater number of combinations and therefore volume of information to embed.

Both barcodes and QR-Codes only need ink (one ink) to create the necessary contrast which is then interpreted by the reader for decoding

By embedding a URL in a code and reading it from a smartphone we have the interaction and multimedia possibilities of the Internet in the off-line world.

We recommend Jack Trout's, "The Power of Simple"

It is not a business. It is a resource

Doomsayer: "Yeah, but this is free, and if no one makes money out of them, they won't be used"

It is false that no one earns anything. Profitability in the long term is achieved by different means.

You can try to do business and offer services around QRs, but they have no owner. They are free to use and can be applied to any business model we can imagine, but you can hardly charge for simply generating codes. You have to create added value, in the same way as in any digital business

Just as the web has become one big cloud, QRs will weave a curious carpet that will connect the physical world with the web.

QR codes vs. other 2D coding systems

Agorero: "Everything open is very good, but the big players are already getting in, they will create their own systems and this will be a market of 3 or 4 big players"

Large companies (e.g. Microsoft, Telefónica) have tried in recent years to create business models based on proprietary code systems and charge for usage but have failed

This failure has been mainly due to the fact that there is a free and open alternative that allows you to enjoy the benefits of 2D code without cost or dependence on a third party

The intent was/is lawful but it implied a complex code ecosystem in which the main disadvantage was the user. Among other drawbacks, one would have to have a reader for each code system

It was a model that ultimately only benefited the companies that owned the code

QR codes vs. other on-off interaction formulas

Doomsayer: "Ya, but in the end everything will go Bluetooth-NFC-RFID-RFID-Geopposition-Augmented Reality, etc."

Variation of the visionary doomsayer: "Yeah, but I'm sure something else will come out and nobody will use this."

Every technology/resource will find its niche and utility.

Bluetooth has failed as an "intrusive marketing" resource and has been relegated (and this is no small thing) to a device connection protocol

QR codes will not be used for everything but they will be the protagonists in several scenarios. And today they are already proving their effectiveness in different areas

To the "visionary doomsayer" we only say QR codes are, by their simplicity, an excellent link between the physical world and the Internet. Obviously new technologies will appear that we can only imagine now


Doomsayer: "They are not secure. People will capture QRs and get viruses on their phones."

Security on smartphones is and will be an issue in the future as mobile internet use becomes more widespread and devices become more sophisticated. This is in no way due to QR codes which only act as a "quick link."

Just as we should not download and execute unknown files on our PC (from an email, web, etc.), we must be careful with what we download on mobile terminals and not follow the link of a QR of dubious origin


Doomsayer: "They are ugly. I don't like them and no one will like them."

Subjectivities aside, the aesthetics of the codes is not their main asset, but if you feel the need to make them more "beautiful" it is perfectly possible.

If you play with the redundancy of the codes and their tolerance to distortion you can create custom codes with a very attractive design. And attention marketing people... you can embed your logo in a QR code!

The converts

Doomsayer: "They are being misused. If they were being used well it would be another thing."

This is a species on the rise lately. These are the professionals who predicted the total failure of QR Codes 2-3 years ago and now argue that they are a fad but if used well have a lot of potential.

Obviously, they make these statements without knowing the difference between an app and a webapp, what Responsive Web Design is, or who invented the printing press.

UX Experts

Doomsayer: "The user experience for capturing a QR is disastrous. No one will pull out the phone, launch the app and capture a QR."

I remind these types of pundits that SMS has been a major revenue line for carriers for the past 10 years. And they have not had a particularly simple interface

Whatsapp is also not particularly immediate and is used "a little bit."

Maybe it's a matter of solving a need?

We ask these doomsayers a question: When smartphone cameras interpret QR codes, will you say the same thing?

Miscellaneous gurus

Doomsayer: "This is silly and geeky, why. Because I say so. No one uses it and no one ever will. I'm a guru."

Without any data beyond their innate wisdom and four Google searches, they predict the death of QR codes

We assumed from day one the possibility of being wrong in betting on QR codes as a resource with potential and future, but we will continue working and especially fighting against the doomsayers defenders of the technological and organizational status quo


- All the doomsayers in this post, without exception, are based on actual fact.

- Thanks again, Edu, for making this post intelligible

Last update 1 year ago