QR Codes Are Dead

I have been meaning to tell you this for a while now, but was not sure how to break the news to you. Within the course of three weeks, I’ve had two experts independently mention that the QR code is on its way out. Granted, that still did not prove its demise. But last week I came across this new study and now have statistical proof that, if not dead, QR codes are definitely SO yesterday.

A terrific new study released by Nellymoser (Mobile Activation Study 2013) provides in-depth analysis of how the top U.S. magazines are utilizing technology to link from their printed pages to mobile devices.

While it does not come as a surprise that the overall use of this linking technology has grown dramatically in the last year—a more than 50 percent increase from 2012 to 2013—the surprising part for you might be that most links or activations were initiated by Image Recognition (IR) technology. That’s a whopping 60 percent compared with the mere 24 percent that used QR codes. As I said, SO yesterday.

(Incidentally, while I am all for branding, I can’t really get behind companies that use their own-branded IR apps. My money is on keeping it simple and using third-party apps. This has the advantage that many of your clients—and clients’ clients—already have the third-party software on their devices.)

Now, QR codes will not completely disappear any time soon. Interestingly enough, for advertisers this is still the technology of choice representing 60 percent of mobile triggers—mainly because a high percentage of mobile users already have QR code readers on their mobile devices.

But in the long run, QR codes will be replaced. So you better be prepared as you are more than just a print service provider—many of you offer marketing services as well…

Sabine Lenz is the founder of PaperSpecs.com, the first online paper database and community specifically designed for paper specifiers.

Growing up in Germany, Sabine started her design career in Frankfurt, before moving to Australia and then the United States. She has worked on design projects ranging from corporate identities to major road shows and product launches. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, her list of clients included Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Deutsche Bank, IBM and KPMG.

Seeing designers struggle worldwide to stay current with new papers and paper trends inspired Sabine to create PaperSpecs, an independent and comprehensive Web-based paper database and weekly e-newsletter. She is also a speaker on paper issues and the paper industry. Some refer to her lovingly as the "paper queen" who combines her passion for this wonderful substrate called paper with a hands-on approach to sharing her knowledge. 

  • Michael Jahn

    Will that work for something like a business card ? I wish we had a standard that enable one to capture the details off of a business card and auto-update my contact database – card scanners try and OCR the data and often fail misserably – and the data is far too complex to represent in a QR Code ( too dense, most smartphones can’t capture them ) and even when they do, there is no ‘standard’ QR Code ‘text" to to VCard.


  • Don Clark

    "My money is on keeping it simple and using third-party apps"
    Do you recommend any in particular? Great post.