QR codes are yesterday’s tech – there are better options

I was reading an interesting post over on Joe Wikert's blog about QR codes. He runs O'Reilly Books, and he was explaining how and why a QR code could be embedded in a paper book to enhance the reading experience. He gave a bunch of ways it could be used, but the how all boils down to the same action.

The reader uses an app on their smartphone to take a picture of the QR code, and then the reader is directed to a website that has content related to the paper book.

Did you notice how limited the audience is for QR codes? You have to have  a smartphone with a camera. I, for one, don't have a smartphone. You could look at it this way. QR codes are intended to add value to a paper book (by linking to web content). But the value the code adds only benefits a part of the readership. Wouldn't it be better to provide a link (which everyone can use)?

Part of my dislike for QR codes is that they remind me of the Cuecat bar code scanner (from the late 1990's tech bubble). The Cuecat was one of those bizarre devices that only get funded during the hype of a bubble (when everyone has lost their senses). The idea was that bar codes would be embedded in adverts and users would wipe the bar code and be directed to a web site. It sounds a lot like QR codes, doesn't it?

The Cuecat died because people figured out that it was easier to simply type in the URL. And now that URL shorteners are in common use I would hope the same happens to QR codes.

P.S. I'd like to make a prediction about QR codes. Some time within the next year (if it hasn't happened already) you're going to be able to snap a picture of a page of text and then have the contents digitally converted and Googled. Where will the QR code be then? They will seem like a quaint curiosity, IMO.

About Nate Hoffelder (11481 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

1 Comment on QR codes are yesterday’s tech – there are better options

  1. HAHAHAHAH, the Cuecat. I remember that.

    But QR Codes do have a purpose, just not the bloody Code-as-content one being bandied about. I see QR Codes in ads and that’s a great way to use them. See a book ad? Snap the QR Code, get taken to Amazon (or wherever) and buy or Wish List.

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