Can QR codes and NFC survive in the mobile marketing sphere? #AppsWorld

With several technologies competing for the same space in the mobile ecosystem, is it a case of survival of the fittest, or can they all co-exist?

This question, looking at NFC and QR codes in particular, was a highlight of the Apps World expert panel discussion on building a mobile marketing strategy, featuring speakers from Yankee Group, Urban Airship, Mojiva and Volvo.

With Apple choosing not to incorporate NFC into the iPhone 5, what is NFC’s future?

According to Jason Armitage, senior analyst at Yankee Group, he is “sceptical” as there are concerns at his end in terms of the gap NFC will fill in the market.

“From our perspective, it’s a technology looking for a solution – and that’s never a good situation for a technology to be in,” he said.

“NFC is always up against competing technologies, some of which have been with us for very many years now,” Armitage added, drily noting the “technology we’re all familiar with called a credit card”.

“We’re getting a little bit concerned if NFC is going to find its perfect user space. My hunch is if we do see that problem being cracked, it may come out in the gaming space, such as the Nintendo Wii U with NFC.

“Gaming is great for bringing new technologies into the consumer space,” he added.

QR codes, and their distribution and application, provoked an equally interesting response.

Nick Marsh, Mojiva EMEA sales and publishing director, described QR codes as having “huge potential”, although noted: “Apps should enable people’s lives. Things like QR codes and bar codes really make a difference”.

“We’re seeing several different technologies trying to achieve the same goal,” noted Armitage.

“It’s not like the music industry, MP3 from CD – in those instances the new technology wholesale replaces the technology which came before it.

“We’ll see a lot of different technologies co-existing in the space at the same time,” he added.

Too technical for marketers?

But is it a case of QR codes not being utilised effectively? Or, more to the point, the technology being too technically-oriented for marketers?

As Christopher S. Dean noted his company, Urban Airship, has purposely taken this into account.

“I think usability is a big issue,” he said, adding: “One of the key things we do with our system is have a set of web-based marketing interfaces, it doesn’t have to be a coder sitting down.

“We’ve thought about how you can access it to everybody and make it easier to use.”

But as Marsh said: “If the marketing guys aren’t going to understand it, how are the general public going to understand it? It’s got to be simple, otherwise people won’t use it.”

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