Last week, Google launched it’s URL shortener service goo.gl which competes with bit.ly and TinyURL , both of which have been around for years and are widely used. However, if you use goo.gl while signed in to a Google account, an additional feature is enabled. The service will generate a QR code as well as a short URL.
This is interesting. Google is making QR codes trivially easy to generate, at the same time as being prime mover behind the Android based smartphones with cameras that can read those codes. I’m wondering if this is will lead to a QR code explosion. Last time I visited Japan (late 2008) they were everywhere – on street furniture, signs in my hotel room – and even McDonalds Burger wrappers. But they have remained conspicuosuly absent from the everyday cityscapes of US and Europe.
Over the last 12 to 18 months, many major Western airlines have started to push mobile phone based Check-in services that use also use matrix barcodes on mobile phones, to replace the paper boarding pass. So now we have a two pronged push on the mindsets of business leaders. On one side – they will start to regularly experience the usefulness of these codes during travel – seeing how they can bridge web and physical service processes. On the other hand marketers and small business owners will likely start to play with codes a lot more by using Google’s service – so we will see them popping up all over the place … business cards, T-shirts, store signage, car windows.
What’s different here? Only consumerization really. While barcodes have been one of the most successful business information technologies of all time, they were not something non-tech folks could adapt and play with. Even though laser barcode readers are cheap PC peripherals these days… who do you know that owns one at home? Now we face the prospect of millions of consumers carrying a barcode reader with them in their pocket every day.
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