Saturday, April 07, 2007

Barcodes for Cellphones - Why the US isn’t Ready Yet

Posted by ericobrien in advertising, wireless, Internet. trackback

The NYT published an article about barcodes for cellphones in yesterday’s Sunday Times. The article does a good job summarizing many of the benefits of using your cell phone as a barcode scanner that can translate specialized two-dimensional barcodes from print or other offline media into some piece of digital information - a URL, a coupon, a ticket, etc. We think the concept is long overdue - barcodes and cellphones can bridge the offline world with the online world in many compelling ways. But frankly, we were surprised to even see an article in reference to barcode use in the US, as we believe the structural nature of the wireless industry here will keep us from enjoying the benefits of cellphone barcodes for a long time to come.

It will be difficult, as the article points out, for barcodes to enjoy widespread use if a client download is required to make things work. This is where the carriers can significantly accelerate adoption, by getting their handset vendors to pre-load the software onto phones so that barcode functionality comes by default. But alas, what’s in it for the carriers? More data traffic? A cut of advertising revenue?


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