As 2012 comes to a close, it’s always good to take a step back to reflect on the evolution of everything over the past year. 12 months are an eternity in the mobile space and 2012 has been particularly full of innovations and remarkable events. Here are some of the year’s highlights:
SUMMER 2012 OLYMPICS –THE FIRST MOBILE GAMES EVER
The London Olympics have been to Mobile Engagement what Woodstock has been to Rock ‘n Roll: the moment where Mobile Engagement officially joined the mainstream by becoming the focal point of social, m-commerce, location-based experiences, and apps. The ScanLife Mobile Engagement Platform helped bring all of these experiences to life, generating 36% more connections than Foursquare check-ins during the games, according to published LOCOG numbers. Check out the Olympics video and case study to see it all in action: Olympics webpage to download the case study!
APPLE LAUNCHES THE IPHONE 5 WITH PASSBOOK
After months of speculation, Apple finally released its 4G-enabled iPhone 5. Of all its new features, the one we are most thrilled about is Passbook. The proto-wallet stores boarding passes, loyalty cards, coupons, event tickets etc. to display the information in the form of a mobile barcode (QR Code, PDF-417, and Aztec) to be used in a store, concert venue or wherever appropriate. It’s a big first step towards enabling m-commerce, m-payments, and m-identity, and more. This approach exposes mobile barcodes to millions of people around the world and is among the best things that could happen for the mobile barcode industry. Thank you Apple!
NEW APP. NEW FUN.
2012 will be known as the year when scanning mobile barcodes became fun. The ScanLife app now includes new social features: users can like what they’ve scanned and share their favourites with their networks – a great way to create gift wish lists. Users can also create an electronic contact card in the form of a QR Code right from the app: enter your details et voila! You can share your contact details in one scan with the “QRcard” feature. The app is now sexier too: iOS users can choose over 20 themes. Dreaming of the beach? We have a cool summer theme – palm trees included. If you’re more of a sports nut we have an entire pack dedicated to baseball, basketball, football, and more. On the other hand, Android users are enjoying a whole new user interface with The Hub. The Hub is the first thing you see when you open the app, and it gives you easy access to everything in ScanLife – your history of scans, live scan activity from around the world, the ability to customize your scanner screen from Settings, and of course the scanner itself from a super cool animated iris. All of these new features are just the beginning in a major evolution to make it easier than ever for users to discover and share information.
Intrigued? Try it out yourself:
THE MAJORITY OF MOBILE USERS OWN A SMARTPHONE. WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR YOU?
2012 marks the first time when the majority of mobile users possess a smartphone in the USA and Europe. This fact has profound implications for businesses: smartphones now serve as the most common starting point for our digital lives across devices with nearly 100% of smartphone owners using their device to go online every day, 85% of smartphone owners seeking local information and 1 in 5 make a purchase after finding that information. As a result, mobile is evolving into a channel in its own right. The table below shows the most popular mobile tactics businesses use to engage their customers, according to research by eConsultancy.
Several factors explain the prominence of QR Codes as a mobile channel. For one, they’ve become a highly effective medium when executed properly. Research by Nellymoser shows that average response rate is 6.4%, versus only 4.4% for Direct Mail and the 4.3% for catalogs, according the Direct Marketing Association. Indeed, as our own trend report shows, 2D barcode scanning increased 71% during 2012.
THE RISE OF MOBILE-SAVVY RETAILERS… AND CONSUMERS
Retail is perhaps the domain where Mobile Engagement has had the greatest impact. Research by eConsultancy shows that the number of consumers who have made a purchase on mobile since 2011 have more than doubled, from 12% to 28% in the US and 13% to 25% and in the UK. For retailers and brands, this trend brings unprecedented opportunity to connect with shoppers. For example, Tesco, which pioneered the concept of virtual store during 2011, extended its virtual stores in Q1. As a result, their app is now the number one shopping app in Korea, with nearly one million downloads since it was launched last April. The most impressive of all is Chinese retailer Yihaodian, which opened 1,000 virtual stores located in iconic areas of Shanghai, Bejing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. The video below shows what a virtual store looks like.
The ubiquity of mobile has also caused the “showrooming” effect, which is the tendency consumers have to go to a brick and mortar store to do for merely research and then purchase the goods online. In fact, in the UK, 43% of respondents said they had used their mobile to compare prices and look at product reviews while out shopping (up from 19% in 2011). Among US consumers, the number has increased from 20% to 50% year over year. Our whitepaper, “The Showrooming Effect. How Retailers can use QR Codes to Create Opportunity”, outlines several ways to tackle this obstacle.
SCANLIFE UNLEASHES A SMARTER MOBILE ENGAGEMENT PLATFORM
To help brands create more relevant mobile experiences, the ScanLife team worked around the clock to launch dynamic new features:
1 – Mobile Landing Pages with Analytics
To aid our customers in understanding post-scan behaviors, we’ve added another valuable piece of business intelligence to the ScanLife platform: any ScanLife business customer that creates mobile landing pages from our platform can now view click-tracking data generated from those pages. Learn what this means for your business now.
2 – Language Detection
We already have codes that change dynamically based on the operating system or number of scans. Now we are thrilled to announce our latest innovation which uses language detection to deliver content that is unique to the language of the user’s device. Find out how it can be used here.
3 – Designer Codes
In April, ScanLife released custom design functionality, where marketers can create a custom design code, with their logo embedded, in seconds. But wait, it gets better: our QRcheck™ technology automatically verifies the readability of the code. If it doesn’t meet a certain level of readability, it will automatically warn the creator. Discover more now.
AND THE WINNER IS…
December was another fun month here at ScanLife! Our highlight was been winning the Business award for Mashable’s Innovation Index for 2012. We’re completely honoured and humbled to be recognized among the prestigious group of leaders who are revolutionizing the digital and social landscape around us. You can check out Mashable’s formal announcement here. This award is especially meaningful for our entire team at ScanLife, which is driven by the mission to create new and better ways to transform our lives through technology. We’re grateful to everyone who voted and appreciate your continued support of what we do here.
As we look to 2013, we are more energized than ever to develop new ideas, push the boundaries of possibility, and unlock tomorrow’s innovations.
We wish you a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!
QR Codes are great for many reasons when executed well, but let’s face it, they are not the prettiest things in the world. To many, they look like a game of Space Invaders or some kind of bizarre maze.
So here at ScanLife, we carried out a survey to find out more on the topic. Of the 213 respondents that had scanned a QR code, 47% said that they would be more likely to scan a colored QR code, 43% felt it wouldn’t make any difference, and only 10% would rather stick to the classic black and white. In other words, looks matter. An attractive design can grab our attention, and a designer code (colors, logos, etc.) will be more likely to drive scans than a black and white one.
However, the issue is that when it comes to scanning QR codes, some code readers are “more equal than others”, i.e. not all 2D barcode readers will read designer codes easily. As a marketer, the challenge is to reach the maximum number of people while getting the highest response rate. If people are unable to even scan your code, then you’ve instantly lost interested and proactive potential customers. Worse, you’ve frustrated and annoyed them, and they are just as likely to blame your brand as they are the code reader.
To help solve this issue, ScanLife has just launched a custom design functionality, where marketers can create a custom design code, with their logo embedded, in seconds. In addition, our QRcheck™ technology automatically verifies the readability of the code: if it doesn’t meet a certain level of readability, it will automatically warn the creator. You can see how it works below:
We have given QR codes the looks and the brains. Now marketers can focus on the experience.
For expert advice, please contact us.
The latter half of 2011 was highlighted by a series of mobile-commerce experiments using QR codes. The goal was to understand the changing nature of shopping, driven by shoppers’ adoption of mobile technology. These initiatives sent a shockwave through the retail industry and mobile commerce quickly made the jump from fiction to reality.
Today, mobile shopping is rapidly becoming a legitimate part of an integrated, multi-channel retail strategy. In fact, the scale and frequency of these experiments is accelerating: in Q1 of 2012 we’ve seen as many virtual shops as in all of 2011.
Tesco Homeplus for example, which piloted the first virtual shop concept in 2011, extended its virtual stores in South Korea last month. Twenty bus shelters displayed groceries that users could purchase by scanning the appropriate QR Code with the Tesco Homeplus Smartphone App. Tesco’s app is now the number one shopping app in Korea with nearly one million downloads since it was launched last April.
PayPal opened QR code shops in 15 Singapore subway stations, allowing commuters to buy Valentines gifts on the go. When asked about the choice of QR codes, Southeast Asia and India Managing Director Elias Ghanem noted that with QR codes “no additional infrastructure is required for merchants, retailers and consumers.”
Virtual stores are also beginning to pop up in western countries. For example, in the US, Resultco redesigned store window display space to draw attention to various products, as a part of its Detroit Storefront Project. Consumers are encouraged to scan the QR codes in order to gain further information or make a purchase.
Also in the US, Glamour magazine joined the fray by setting up a shoppable wall across from the Standard Hotel in New York City. Consumers can scan mobile barcodes to buy cosmetics for home delivery. In the film industry, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment established the Fox Movie Mall virtual store fronts for consumers to purchase a movie and have it mailed to their home.
So where are we heading?
Consumers won’t rush to swap their shopping bags for shopping apps any time soon. However, as smartphone and mobile internet penetration surges, so does the mobile commerce market. Retailers that implement mobile as part of their strategy will have an early advantage in a market that’s growing faster than online commerce did the early 2000s.
Today, 18% of those that have scanned a code go on to make a purchase, and recent forecasts have predicted that mobile commerce will overtake traditional e-commerce by 2015.
At its current pace, it just may happen sooner…
ScanLife was launched in Beta in 2008. At the time, cameras were terrible, and we had a perfect answer to bring 2D codes to millions of phones. The answer was in the form of the EZcode which is an awesome solution, but it had one stigma – proprietary. While marketers and publishers loved the technology, we quickly realized that they did not love it’s limitation of reach (only compatible with the ScanLife app).
So, in 2009, we made the specs available for the EZcode, but more importantly added open source QR Codes to our platform and to our application. Since that time, the world of open source mobile barcode scanning has exploded. The ScanLife platform has generated tens of thousands of open QR Codes which can be read by any standard app. Therefore, we are seeing millions of scans per month and seeing 4x growth versus 2010. Clearly this was the path forward for both marketers and users.
This week, Microsoft Tag made their decision to enter the world of open standards – almost 3 years after their product was launched. We applaud this decision, and only wish they saw the light sooner. In that time, consumers and publishers have been unnecessarily confused by a closed code format which only works with a single app. We believe more open QR Codes will only mean more value to both end users and the businesses that use them to connect the physical world.
We know for a fact that code publishers choose “open” because the most important thing is reach. Scanbuy just conducted an online survey among marketers, and the numbers speak for themselves (more details soon):
The world of 2D codes will continue to evolve and we believe the best way for that to happen is by building from an open source symbology or “gateway.” What you can do from that gateway is endless, and a managed platform (like ScanLife) can help harness that potential by using real time data, dynamic code actions and mobile formatted content.
Open is good, open is powerful. Now let’s work together to unleash it’s full potential.
ScanLife gave a webinar entitled “Understanding Mobile Barcodes” hosted by Verizon on March 3, 2011. It covered a variety of topics including:
Get your free download of the Netsize Guide 2010 right here!
This is a comprehensive annual industry report, documenting the state of the global mobile content and services market. It includes in-depth research and exclusive interviews with industry executives (including Jonathan Bulkeley, CEO of Scanbuy).
Scanbuy and NeoMedia announced a cross licensing deal today which we hope will move the mobile barcode space to new heights in the United States. Both companies have invested a great deal of time and resources in developing our intellectual property, and we are pleased to have finally come to a fair agreement.
Our technology inter-operates with any mobile operator, any handset, any geography and any barcode format – that flexibility is critical to making this a viable and long-term solution. Scanbuy’s current patent portfolio covers the entire mobile barcode space, and we will continue bring innovative solutions to our partners and customers.
Thanks for your support,
Jonathan Bulkeley, Chief Executive Officer
Part of what we try do here is educate and clear up any confusion around the mobile barcode space. One big misunderstanding is the difference between QR Codes and 2D barcodes. Often times, people use them interchangeably which is making a lot of people pretty confused. While some may say its semantics, it’s really important at this stage in the technology to be educated around what is what.
2-D, or two-dimensional barcodes are really any geometric pattern of images or modules that can be read by an optical scanner. Under that category, there is a wide variety of different code formats or symbologies. (more…)
The first real topic we thought we would cover is the what and why of 2D barcodes. Like any new technology, adoption is driven by the user – what will this do for me to make my life easier or better? So, we’re going to start with a focus on the user and get to the “code publisher” or the business later.
We first need to generally define a 2D barcode since we often forget many people are starting from square one.
Welcome to our first ScanLife post! We have a lot that we plan to cover including tips to using 2D codes, new code projects from around the world, ScanLife feature announcements, and more.
This is a very fast-moving and sometimes misunderstood space, but we will try to make it plain and simple because that’s what makes it so great.
We ask that all of you add your feedback and knowledge for the benefit of the community, but please keep it friendly!
You can also follow us on Twitter for more rapid updates (@scanlifesupport). Or you can scan this code to see our profile:
Thanks for joining us!
Mobile barcodes could change the way we discover & share information from the world around us. We welcome your thoughts & ideas on how to make this technology matter - today and in the future.