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Survey finds that most consumers don’t understand QR codes

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Revitalizing an old argument

We have long predicted that QR codes are just a passing trend and although companies will take a shine to them, consumers will ultimately opt to type in a memorable URL or use augmented reality apps as they become mainstream.

Up to this point it has mostly been through discussion with consumers that we have made this assertion, but recently, Sean X Cummings at iMediaConnection.com stood on a San Francisco street holding up a sign with a QR code on it as well as the phrase “free gift if you can tell me what this is.” Although his poll was not scientific and answers should have been skewed toward people understanding what a QR code is given the genetics of the city, out of 300 people, it was mostly a mystery despite marketing experts proclaiming QR codes must be a part of all marketing campaigns.

Surveying the streets of San Fran – shocking results

“I was not asking them to decipher it, just tell me what it actually was,” Cumming said. Below are his full survey results:

  • 11 percent correctly answered QR code or quick response code
  • 29 percent responded with “Some barcode thingy”
  • Seven percent guessed some variant of “Those things you stare at that get 3D when you cross your eyes. What picture is it? I can’t seem to get it”
  • The remaining 53 percent tried everything from a secret military code, Korean (uh really?), to an aerial street map of San Francisco.

Additionally, Cummings asked everyone who understood it to be some form of a barcode how they could decipher it and only 35 percent said “with their phone,” leaving the majority clueless even when they knew what it was. And of those who knew they could use their phone to read the code, only 45 percent of those (so roughly 15 percent of all people surveyed) could actually read the code with their phone, taking them an average of 47 seconds to take out their phone, find the app and read the code. “Not exactly a ‘quick response,'” Cummings said.

“Too geeky for the masses.”

Larry Lohrman, photography expert said, “I like the idea of QR codes, but even though I see more of them all the time, I have to admit that it’s now two years since my prediction that they were going to be an awesome feature for real estate. I have a app on my phone that will scan them but there aren’t enough of them around in the right places that I use them every week or month. I’d rather scan a QR code than type in a URL and day but they are just not being used enough so I even see them every day. I only ever see them in Wired magazine and The New Yorker. There usage also depends on the masses using smart phones with scanning apps and as I think about it I’m the only one in my extended family of 15 or so people that even has a smart phone and knows what a QR code is.
Maybe Sean is right. Maybe they are just too geeky for the masses.”

QR codes ARE a passing trend

Beyond being too geeky, they’re a bulky option to a billboard saying “visit SpecialSite.com” as they zip by at 70 mph. We maintain that augmented reality apps will ultimately take QR codes’ place, but for now, marketers will continue to struggle as QR codes are not only misunderstood by the public but banned by MLS systems and remain illegal to scan from cars as most states have texting laws in place which includes most smartphone apps.

It has become hard to say this because there are a lot of amazing people doing creative, ground-breaking things around the technology, but I still believe that QR codes are a passing trend no matter how cool, neat or useful they are.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and sister news outlet, The Real Daily, and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. erikgoldhar

    November 9, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Hi Lani,

    I think your post is a bit misleading in terms of MLSs banning QR Codes. I believe that they are only banned by a few (if not one) MLS and only banned in terms of using them as a photo on the listing within the MLS itself.

    This means that Agents and Brokerage can use QR Codes on Business Cards, For Sale Signs, Bus Shelter Ads, Print (i.e newspapers and flyers) and anywhere else they choose.

    Because a QR Code needs to be scanned with your phone it doesn't make sense to include it as one of your listing photos because you are already on the page of the listing.

    In terms of the technology being replaced by augmented reality I am not quite sure. Maybe Mobile Image Recognition.

    In the past 2 weeks these brands have launched QR Code campaigns:
    1. Starbucks
    2. Walmart
    3. Toys R Us
    4. Paypal
    5. Kmart
    6. Nissan
    7. Toyota
    8. Alamo Car Rental
    9. Enterprise Car Rental
    10. National Car Rental
    11. Sears
    12. Perrier
    13. JC Penney
    14. Papa Johns
    15. Bang & Olufsen

    Would all of these brands be using the technology if it was going away?

    Again, not so sure.

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Smartphones

LG G Flex will have a curved display: why it even matters

The LG G Flex is exciting as it is curved, but there are much deeper implications of this announcement that your company should take note of before your competitors do.

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LG G Flex to feature curved display

You may have heard that Samsung will launch a smartphone with a curved display (although they’ve so far fallen short on their plans to produce their smartphone prototype that is completely flexible), but did you know that LG is hot on their heels, with rumors of the LG G Flex launching this November?

As depicted above, what is believed to be called the LG G Flex is similar to a standard smartphone in shape, with just a slight curve, using plastic OLED screen technology

CNET reports that sources close to the project say the G Flex will have a six-inch display and November is the projected unveiling, but that could always be pushed back (although to be in time for the holiday shopping season, we suspect it will be a November launch).

Samsung will likely unveil their curved display phone this month, and there are rumors that the Galaxy Note 3 could feature a curved display as well.

Curved does not equal flexible

So why develop a curved display? Analysts point to the device actually fitting around your face naturally for making calls, and others note that it fits in a rear pocket more comfortably with a curve.

Curved does not equal flexibility, though, as the devices are still stationary, but the reason the LG G Flex being curved matters to you is that mass production of this type of technology is the precursor to what’s coming next – flexible devices.

Looking into a crystal ball

LG already introduced a curved 55-inch OLED tv panel, and was first to the finish line with the ability to mass produce fully flexible plastic screens, announced last year with their electronic paper display (EPD) product, sold overseas.

The LG EPD is not just flexible, allowing the screen to bend up to 40 degrees from its center, it is a 6 inch, 1024 x 768 e-ink plastic screen. The technology used mimics the way traditional ink appears on paper, which many prefer over the backlit flat panel displays of tablets and computers. The EPD is only 0.7mm thick, weighs 14 grams (that’s 1/33 of a pound) and is said to be scratch resistant when dropped.

Flexibility is next, and it is relevant for your brand not just for the novelty of having a flexible device, but because the way people interact with your website or app could be changing sooner than you might suspect.

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iPhone 6 concepts beginning to emerge

With all the hub-bub about iOS 7 and iPhone 5, several iPhone 6 concepts have emerged. The most prominent feature is the wrap around screen.

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Looking into the future

Whether you are an Android lover or an Apple fanatic, people love to fantasize about what the newest phone release will bring, from hologram keyboards, an added projector, and so forth. As for the iPhone 6, the most common feature designers and fans think it will have is the wrap around screen. AGBeat has featured this concept several times, and while it has yet to become reality, there seems to be high hope for the iPhone 6 release.

Dribble users have designed and shared several concept models, all of which have the wrap around screen, also known as the infinity screen. This design allows a more engaged user experience, by removing the side casing. The sides have a flat, touch-responsive volume control and a much thinner design overall. And some additional revisions (based upon Cladio Guglieri’s original) have included wifi, Bluetooth, do not disturb, airplane mode, and rotation lock icons, right on the side.

These additions give you instant access to your most used controls, without the need to tap through to gain access to the settings screen. Also, with the extra features, the opposite side of the phone shows your message status, emails, and music controls. DeviantArt also has multiple postings of the infinity screen design. This is absolutely amazing to me because there is so much information in such a limited amount of space. The thickness of the phone in the concept states 0.30 inches; it is really hard to believe an email icon can fit and be legible, but it does.

Other futuristic possibilities

There are also several versions that include aluminum plus carbon fiber casing, in many different variations. Although most still remove the edges from the iPhone 5 design. Behance users have also created several examples of this design concept. With touch sensors wrapping the display edge, concept designers believe no borders means nothing between your hands and the display. And they hope accidental gestures can be prevented with the sensors, although this is just a concept. You certainly would not want to pick the phone up to answer a call from your boss and accidentally start your iTunes playlist.

The only problem I see with this beautiful design is protecting the edges, despite designers touting the durability of the new technologies. As someone who frequently drops their phone, and attempts to keep it safe by using a protective case, I wonder how you can utilize the edges, but still keep the phone safe. Also, I would be interested to see, how often holding the phone triggers the side sensors. Otherwise, I think the wrap around design is both beautifully functional and a long overdue, welcome feature.

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Contacts+ app adds productivity to any Android

Android users: Contacts+ is a great new way to manage your contacts, making a potentially frustrating process simple and streamlined, adding productivity to your phone.

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Contacts+ is more than a contact manager

Contacts+ is more than just a contact manager though, it is also a dialer app and combines photos with information from all your connected services: WhatsApp, Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. Contacts+ is a welcome alternative to the Andriod favorite Smartr. Since Smartr was recently acquired by Yahoo!, Contacts+ could not have come at a better time.

You can send free and regular messages without switching apps, sync pictures to your contacts, including cover photos, from Facebook and get birthday reminders.

How the app works

With optimization for both Android phone and tablets, you have the ability to sort your contacts in a variety of ways without worrying if you will be able to see all the data. You can sort by groups, favorites, smart contact (prioritization by frequency or A-Z), and search message history of your contact from one place. If you happen to have the same contact in your phone more than once, Contacts+ will sync them together to save you any confusion.

One tap opens a contact card, and then you can tap again to make calls or email them. Once the contact card is open, you can also catch up on their social media life. Leo from Contacts+ writes, “they have a sync process with Facebook and Google+, essentially users connect their accounts (authentication is performed securely through the respective service) and once an account is connected, Contacts+ links and syncs contacts based on unique identifiable information, enabling them to automatically connect your contacts and their identities.”.

New features have been added

The newest features include high res picture sync, a new black theme, T9 search in the call log, Dialer+ shortcut that can be opened over your call log/contacts screen, the ability to call back directly from the incoming message pop up and ignore accents improvements.

The only drawback is that some of the “sorting” features are a bit harder to find. You will need to tap through a couple of different options to find the ability to sort by last name, for example. But, once you get used to it, it really is a nice way to manage your contacts. Contacts+ is free in the Google Play store.

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