Print & Mobile Phones: QR Codes, NFC Square Off
On the flip side, NFC is not fully prepared to challenge QR codes. Very few people currently have an NFC-equipped phone. (In 2008, Jupiter Research predicted that up to 700 million NFC-enabled mobile phones will be sold in 2013.) Other challenges such as cost reduction and security must be sorted, and will—in time.
Eric Weymueller, co-founder of contentAI studios in Portland, OR, believes bridging end users from the real world to any mobile application needs to be intuitive and simple. The team at contentAI had the benefit of using Google’s “Places” NFC test campaign last December.
Weymueller says it was fascinating to observe the ease at which an NFC engagement occurs compared to a QR code. “NFC is a gesture-based engagement (“wanding” a tag) that requires no exclusive concentration (e.g., no “focus.”). And, it's being applied to a wide range of mobile engagements, from payments to smart posters to electronic keys for hotel rooms. This cross-platform usage is what will drive NFC into becoming a standard.”
contentAI believes that NFC will help drive mainstream adoption of mobile engagement with real-world objects where combined NFC and QR code campaigns will become a de facto standard. However, many QR code advocates are fighting NFC rather than embracing it. The best campaigns they have seen so far include NFC, QR and Bluetooth.
People need to start thinking about launching a mobile campaign with some trigger in the middle. "What's crucial is that there is a cohesive plan to the campaign. We like to think of this as moving from Chapter One to Chapter Two in a book," adds Weymueller. "Chapter One's job is to get someone to want to get to Chapter Two. Chapter Two's job is to 'pay off' the 'setup' from Chapter One."
Looking ahead, NFC is being promoted as becoming commonplace—it is foreseen permeating our lives with wireless payments, door locks (hotels are already using this) and other real-world devices, including "smart posters." It will be as common as a credit card swipe (QR codes will probably never gain that level of habitual use.) On the other hand, QR codes will reign when it comes to printed collateral and because they're a low-cost solution.