Future of QR Codes – What’s at stake?

QR codes have been in business for a few years now, but left relatively unknown until recently.  With smartphones expanding its consumer reach to about 35% of the adult population, QR codes may generate more and more interest.  Or they could fail and be a wasted effort.

QR Code Basics

What is it?  A QR code is a matrix barcode that can be used to track inventory, hold content and promote marketing campaigns, etc.

How do you access?  A QR code can be accessed via a smartphone using a code reader.  Some phones, such as Google Androids, come equipped with a reader.  Although smartphones are the primary devices, touch pads can also be used


Currently 5% of adults scan QR codes, which is not prime time usage but it still equates to around 14 million people.  Keep in mind, only 35% of adults own a smartphone–there’s a real chance here for QR codes to emerge.  The goal is to keep the growth of QR codes in line with the growth of smartphone usage.  If this occurs, there’s a real chance for success.

QR codes are used to keep inventory, send users to a specific website or store data about a specific product/promotion.  They’re easy to use and quick to set up, but my question is what’s the future of these?

Here are my predictions for 2012:

  1. Catalyst for Managing Subscriptions:  QR codes will be used in compliment of “subscribing” to a service or newsletter–imagine scanning a code, then receiving an automated text to “opt-in” to future updates, etc
  2. Primary Location for Dynamic Content:  QR codes will take over “micro-sites” and become the new way for storing dynamic content–the content can be changed on the go and is much easier to control compared to a webpage
  3. Bonus Features:  Most consumer products will be equipped with QR codes to deliver access to “behind the scenes footage,” “special discounts” and “future offerings”
  4. New Business Cards:  Business cards are becoming less and less important with the influx of Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn and other social media tools.  Nowadays, its almost easier to follow a new content in one of these tools than to save a business card and remember to add them later–QR codes can automatically store your own contact info, interests and social media outlets with the ability to scan, send and add the new contact info directly with a click of a button
  5. Complete Identity:  One day, QR codes will be able to store every bit of information about a person that it will become an identity.  We will be able to find out so much information about a person/place/thing with a two second scan.  Everything available on web (mainly Google) will be accessible through one bar code scan

The future is bright, but only if QR codes can stay relevant in a dynamic environment where smartphones today may be the trend but tomorrow its something else.  Integration is key in order for QR codes to stay alive.  Provide the ability to integrate and communicate with every aspect of our lives…and you’ve got a case to stick around.

So, what’s at stake? The complete livelihood of QR codes.  QR codes can benefit from the smartphone growth, BUT the reverse can also be argued.  What if QR codes becomes the next phenomena and people become obsessed with discovering the “hidden” content behind a person/place/thing?  Then, smartphones become a need instead of a luxury.   Definitely, QR codes can take the world by storm and frankly anything less is a failure in my mind.