Critical Mass: Mobile Barcode Scanning Up 700%

ScanLife recently released a Mobile Barcode Trend Report showing a 700% increase in mobile barcode usage since January 2010. This includes both 2D (QR Codes) and 1D (UPC codes), which suggests that beyond following links from ads and marketing literature, people are using the technology to research products they are about to buy, while holding it in their hands.

This tells me that the technology has reached a critical mass; enough people are now using it, or will be soon, that it is now valuable for your company to get started. Most of the products scanned are consumer products, but as I've said about social media in general, as people get used to using the technology at home they will start looking to use it at work.

Key points from the study:
  • Growth is exponential; more people scanned barcodes in July 2010 than all of 2009.
  • The growth curve seems to be getting steeper.
  • Most (85%) codes link to a URL.
  • In ScanLife's words: "The two most popular categories are from every day products that one would find in their kitchen or bathroom." Right now that means food and toiletries because you can scan them at the store, so it would be easy to extend that trend to hardware, DIY products, and paint.
  • The typical user is 35-54, male, with an income over $50,000. This describes typical early adopters, but also could describe the typical architecture firm.
It is important to note the study only reflects data from one company, but ScanLife is one of the largest players in the field, so their trend data tells us something useful about the industry as a whole.

Meanwhile at QR Code Magazine, Roger reports on a study finding that 15% of shoppers would scan a QR code for information about a car they were considering. And what information would they scan a QR code to get?

Environmental performance data.

Anyone out there have a green product? If so, I hope you're paying attention. The EPA and DOT are proposing that by 2012 all new hybrid cars have labels with QR codes linking to information about fuel economy.

One of my communication technology professors liked to tell us that the value of the first fax machine ever sold was nothing compared to the value of the second one. One in six people are now using QR codes and growth is exponential; how much is that worth to your company?