Wednesday, December 14, 2005

In marketing, QR rules. RFID doesn't

Nokia has announced a version of its 3220 phone that interacts with RFID chips, tiny little chips that can be embedded in anything in order to provide information about whereabouts, identity, and whatnot.

MobileMentalism makes a lot of hay about its possibilities. Once RFIDs are sitting in billboards and poster, you can swipe your phone and immediately get connected to the website where you can make reservations or buy the advertised product, they say. Don't think so.

First, everybody has to start embedding RFIDs in all kinds of media. Secondly, RFIDs are already being put in US passports and there'll be a privacy backlash against them before you know it.

And thirdly, there already is a technology that enables us to do all of that. It's in everybody's pocket and to interact with it all you have to do is print a code on your advertising medium. Americans may not know it yet, but Japanese do. The technology is the cameraphone, and de codes are QR (Quick Response). QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes that can contain information like URLs, email addresses, or even contact details such as on a name card. Even low-res camphones can be used to take a picture of such a code, whether it sits on a name card, magazine ad, poster or even a billboard.

Northwest Airlines had one up on a building in Tokyo's Ginza the other day that measured several meters, so it could be photographed from a distance. The code took you straight to Northwest's reservations website. Response percentages exceeded those of other media. I've also met several people in Japan who had one on their namecard, enabling you to import their contact details straight into your phone.

Forget about RFID. QR codes rule. Watch this space.

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