2D mobile bar code readers: breakthrough for marketers
Before I get into this let’s do a little backtracking. Traditional 1D bar codes hold limited data; however, it is expected they will continue to co-exist alongside the new data-hefty 2D barcode. The first 2D bar code was invented in 1988; but since then, it has been re-designed many times. In fact, the 2D has egressed from the “stacked ” design to the more familiar matrix design (above). The Aztec code invented by Andy Longacre of Welch Allyn in 1995 has entered our cultural lexicon; it is seen on t-shirts and construction clap-boards among others. You will see it more.
There are over 20 2D symbologies available today. What’s nifty about them is that they can carry so much information that they do not have to be checked against databases–all the data necessary is on the bar code.
OK now for a look at the players. Motorola has recently acquired Symbol Technologies, reknown for their bar code readers; this will give Motorola a clear advantage. One of the most active spaces for bar code software is its application in the mobile phone sector. Among the major players are Scanbuy (which signed a global partnership with Nokia in 2004), Mediaseek, Mediastick (Japanese player), Nokia (who seems to be going direct according to their end user agreement) and Neomedia (USA). Have I missed some?
Camera cell phones are the common rudiment enabling this technology. So now consumers can point, scan and get coupons on the spot. That’s better than Googling a brand on your phone browser and waiting for information that probably won’t be relevant. It’s just not practical.
In the meantime, companies have joined together in Europe(HP Labs, Gavitec (owned by Neomedia) , Publicis (an ad agency?) and Neomedia), to develop a Mobile Codes Standard standard, MC2 (that MC two D). Who knows if in this dog-eats-dog world the group will grow.
So if I seem to be making a case for bar code phones, it’s because I am. Guess what else a souped up camera-phone with bar code software can do? Gavitec has gone a step further to inspire marketers in the mobile market. (Don’t miss Gavitec’s excellent on-site videos if you want to “get it” fast). It features Neomedia’s capabilities with ticketing, couponing, payment, loyalty, transport ticketing wherever you are– the possibilities astound. Here are some projects already in play with Gavitec:
- McDonald’s Portugal
- Bus tickets in Spain
- H&M promotional campaign in Germany
- Movie premiere tickets in Turkey
- Payment in Switzerland
- See the video below to get a broader perspective!
Gavitec has made great headway as the leader in mobile ticketing.This provides Neomedia a marketing engine for its patented software. Imagine, no more waiting at ticket booths or purchasing locations. More time to live.
Look for omniscience of the matrix bar code in our society–on everything from ads, through outdoors posters to products. Unlike RFID (which is being met with much criticism for privacy matters) it is not conceived to follow you but rather to enable you with information, access and opportunity. However! these bar codes’ data effectively travel in the SMS network; perhaps scrutiny as to the security of the information is due. After all we are talking about cell phones where conversations can be heard by other parties. Remember what Prince Charles said to Camilla in the privacy of their SMS network?
The big question that remains unanswered is how will retailers repond to this soon to be ubiquitous application? Will they fear encroachment on their house brands or slotting revenue tactics? Retailers are control freaks.
Anyway this is my take so far. I am engaged. This is truly a fantastic space to watch.
Footnote: I can only hope Neomedia will be smart enough to demo at Plexus 2007 : The Marketing Conference & Demo this fall in Toronto, an international event for business and marketers. If they can go to Spain and Turkey, they come here too. US needs to pay more attention to its good neighbor.