digital, agencies, life, and other stuff

Mobile Internet and the physical world – part 1

Posted by Lee on August 29, 2008

To date, New Zealand has been pretty slow in adopting cool mobile technologies. This may seem odd because NZ has always been something of a technology ‘early adopter’ and is one of the largest users of SMS in the world. However, to date we have also been hampered with some of the most expensive data costs in the OECD as well.
We cannot just blame the network operators for our reluctance to truly get onboard the mobile revolution though. Marketing agencies need to get serious about mobiles as they have become the most pervasive personal media channel, and we need to start developing some compelling, innovative campaigns that drive people to want to use their mobiles in more innovative ways.

Over the last few years, I’ve been working with one of the two main mobile operators in New Zealand, and it’s obvious there is a real need to not only educate people about the mobile Internet, but also remove perceived barriers to accessing it.
We need to offer real utility to mobile consumers when it counts, out and about and on the streets.
Obvious utilities such as GPS enabled proximity services are currently hampered by our privacy obsessed legislation, however one of the tools which could address the linkage between the mobile Internet (and its inherent keyboard / interface limitations), and the mobile world are bar codes that can be read by most current generation, camera mobile handsets.

These barcodes are optically read by the camera, interpreted by the reader software inside the handset, and converted into usable information such as a message, contact details, or as in this discussion, a url that can automatically launch your mobile browser and take you directly to the website in an instant.
Imagine walking down the road and you see a poster, billboard or adshel with an advertisement on it– however, you notice a bar code within the advertisement.  Using the reader software, you simply take a photograph of the bar code with your mobile phone and you are automatically offered the option to launch this address in your mobile phone browser.

QR codes
A cool idea, yes, but by no means new, nor unproven – QR (Quick Response) codes have been around for about 5 years in Japan, are recognized by over 90% of Japanese mobile users, over 50% of them use QR codes in their daily mobile lives, and virtually all new mobile handsets come with barcode readers already pre-installed!
In the technology space, it’s taken an age to really start to make an impression in ‘Western’ countries, but at last that is starting to change.
Nowadays in Japan, QR codes are found everywhere – in flyers, on billboards, posters, adshels, print ads and product packaging.

I’ll do a follow-up on this with some marketing examples that have used them, but until then, you can learn more about QR codes at Wikipedia


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