Print & Mobile Phones: QR Codes, NFC Square Off
The Tale of the Tape
In terms of how QR codes and NFC compare; each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Here's how they measure up:
• Experience: QR codes have been around since 1994. NFC has been in existence since 2004—however, it is a spinoff of RFID, which was established in the 1970s. Both are more prevalent in Japan and are very new to the U.S., although QR codes have a head start.
• Reach: QR codes are winning ground, while NFC is in its early stages. NFC hardware is not yet readily available, and the current infrastructure to support it is demographically sparse. QR codes are easy to create, easily distributable and recognizable.
• Versatility: NFC tags scan very reliably and quickly, and do not need to be within a line of sight. However, they are limited to a very close range (the initiator must be within
• Requirements: NFC requires an initiator (smart phone or other device that generates an active NFC field), a receiver target with an embedded NFC chip and software to process the data. QR codes require a camera to capture the code and software to decode it.
• Strengths: NFC's strengths lie in mobile payments, location-based navigation and POS (point-of-sale), and will replace QR codes in many of these cases. However, when it comes to print collateral, QR codes are widespread, affordable and cost little or nothing to create.
• Intangibles: Before QR codes ever became established in the United States, they fell from people's favor. (Although, I believe this was due more to poor underlying marketing strategies, and not the technology.) Because of this and also due to Google's support of it, NFC seems to be the fan favorite.
The willingness to throw these two technologies into the ring has more to do with the public's discontent due to a poor perception of QR codes than anything. QR codes have fallen from favor because of poor construction, misuse and inadequate marketing campaigns.