The hyperlink is the fundamental building block of the Internet and traditionally live in browser windows. Soon, some hyperlinks will move offline where they can be “clicked” by people roaming the real world.
By printing a Quick Response (QR) bar code on an item, a consumer can quickly link from the real-world experience to rich web content via his smartphone.
- You have been looking for the perfect lamp for your living room for a long time. You see the perfect one — not in a furniture show room, but in a hotel lobby. At the base of a lamp is a QR code. You scan it with your phone, click a link to “buy it now,” and purchase the lamp on the spot.
- You discover that the water dispenser on your home fridge isn’t working. You open the fridge and see the indicator light informing you that your water filter cartridge needs replacing. Imagine a QR code is printed on the water filter with the prompt: “Scan me to reorder.” Grabbing my phone, I scan the code, pulling up a 15% manufacturer’s discount if I order the cartridge directly.
That is the power of context-sensitive marketing or CSM.
All of this technology may sound great, but is the world ready for QR codes? Technologically, the convergence of three trends are equipping consumers with the tools to make QR code scanning seamless:
- The growth of wireless data transmissions through 3G+ and Wi-Fi;
- The ubiquity of Internet-connected mobile mini-computers, a.k.a. smartphones (equipped with GPS and high-definition cameras); and
- The emergence of data storage in the Internet cloud.
According to Nielsen, 51% of all Americans will be carrying smartphones by 2011. The number of QR codes in circulation is reported to increase significantly. QR reading apps are quick to launch, quick to scan and available on every smartphone operating system. Behaviorally, the mass adoption of QR codes will take time.