Mobile barcoding isn’t very new anymore. You’ve probably seen the QR-codes and Shotcodes by now. 2D barcodes that aren’t really advanced, they redirect you to a website or show a short text when photographed by a mobile phone camera. Recently Tom Gibara added a new chapter to the mobile barcoding book. He developed the Moseycode. A Moseycode holds much more information than any other mobile barcode. When photographing a Moseycode, your mobile telephone will reveal information like 3D pictures, locations and even allows you to add your own media to the repository/portal you’ve found. The content of the code isn’t static. The Moseycode barcoding system is specifically developed for Android. So we have to wait for a little while to put the Moseycode to the test. But did you already actually use a QR-code? A Shotcode? When you did, you probably were in Japan. Because commercial use of mobile barcoding in Europe or the US is still very rare.
With this last thing in mind, it is remarkable how many mobile barcode systems were developed in the last years. Let me give you a short outline.
1. At first, or at least somewhere at the beginning, there was the Semacode. A code that redirects you to a URL, nothing more.
2. Then there was the QR-code, besides a URL, this code can also hold a short text, a text message or a phone number.
3. Around the same time in Japan and Korea, the ColorZip code was released, basically a QR-code with color as a third variable that made more combinations possible.
4. Not a very long time ago the Shotcode was released, the amount of information a Shotcode can hold isn’t any different from its predecessors. The difference lies in esthetic aspects, a shotcode is circle-shaped and has room for commercial texts or graphics inside the picture of the code.
5. Well, now Tom Gibara developed the first mobile barcode that holds threedimensional information, the big difference is that we can’t use this technique until Android is released.
Of course it’s a good thing that mobile barcoding is developing rapidly. But I think there’s one big problem, caused by the fast and uncontrolled development of these codes. There simply is no standard. Recently I experimented with mobile barcoding and I had to download four different types of software, every code needs its own reader to be installed on your phone. Not very accessible, I would say. My own willingness to discover the working of mobile barcoding made me succeed but any other consumer would have given up after a while. This makes the technology very unattractive to advertisers. They would probably only invest in a mobile barcode to obtain an innovative image in the eyes of their customers.
An even bigger problem is that there are few consumers that know how mobile barcoding works. So when an advertiser would be tempted to give it a try, the consumer probably wouldn’t know what to do with that weird little image at the bottom of the billboard. So, is mobile barcoding doomed to fail? I don’t think so.
As I mentioned before, there is no standard in mobile barcoding. Developing companies should invest in one standard code. When this standard is obtained, they should all focus their innovative energy in the development of that single standard. All mobile phones should be able to read that code, like a perfectly build website that looks the same in all browsers. On the consumer side, one code is simply easier to grasp than four (actually, there are more). The consumer and the advertiser could be educated more efficiently, because there is less to learn. Barcode marketing would stand a good chance this way.