It seems like the trend of the QR code died just as quickly as it started. QR code stands for Quick Response Code, however there isn’t much that is quick about it. Let’s go back to where it all started, Japan. The QR code is a two-dimensional barcode that was first designed for the automotive industry in 1994. But around six years ago they made a huge comeback and you could find them anywhere – t-shirts, books, posters – it’s a never ending list. In hindsight, you scan the barcode with an app on your smartphone and it leads you to information. In theory, this sounds like a great idea, but the aesthetics and usability seem to disagree.
Technological advancement has been a real downfall for the QR code. In order to use a QR code you would need some type of application that has the ability to read the code. Since cell phones don’t come with this application it adds extra steps for the user – go to the App Store, download the app, and then use it. In most cases it’s quicker just to type in the URL directly. Also, some QR codes send users to non-mobile optimized sites which is very counterproductive. Since QR codes made their big leap around 2010, many links have expired. An expired link just leaves you with a big ugly code on your packaging that doesn’t even work.
Many people aren’t aware of what a QR code is and what it does. Although it doesn’t seem like a daunting task to take a picture of a code and let the app take you to the website, if someone were to attempt and fail, that could be the end of their use of QR codes. According to an article by Smashbrand.com, only 15% of smartphone users know how to use a QR scanner. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are using the scanner, just that they know how to use it. The odds are not in good favor.
With QR codes you never really know where you’re going until you get there; that poses a big security problem. As the mobile market begins to pass the computer market there is much more access for hackers. It’s a scary reality because you never know where codes take you, and by scanning a malicious code, you could be putting your personal information at risk without even knowing. Typing in a URL or clicking a direct link, you can see where it’s taking you, and if something doesn’t look right, simply don’t click on it. With QR codes, however, you could be going someplace you never wanted to.
QR codes are a thing of the past and they need to stay there. Unless mobile devices are released with an integrated scanner, a new look, and better security features, the QR code train has left the station and is a one way ticket that is not coming back.