At F8 yesterday, Facebook announced that its new version of Messenger would pack in support for QR codes. This caught me a bit by surprise. It seemed QR codes were all the rage about seven years ago, but I hardly hear about them anymore. Are consumers still using them en masse?
The US market has decided QR codes and seems to laugh at them. Internationally they seem alive and well, and some of that has spilled over into the US. In Snapchat, Twitter and others you can share a QR code that allows people to connect to you. In Korea, one of the top most connected countries in the world, QR codes powered an ecommerce site that was one of the most popular for a while. One thing holding QR codes back in the US is one tool you can assume everyone will have that could read them. FB might be the answer to that.
There are two big reasons QR codes never caught on in the US.
1. there is no easy way to read them. it requires a special reader that is in no way universal or even pre-loaded on devices.
2. those that put in the effort to read QR codes are often disappointed to find the code led them to a homepage or somewhere not really worth the effort.
Built in support (pre loaded) was the key factor in QR codes not gaining traction. Is FB Messenger a big enough platform to drive a rebirth of QR codes, I am sceptical. It will need a few more major platforms to jump on the bandwagon - which might happen with this result.
Biggest issue with QR codes
Interested to see if Messenger is going to be the game changer or unified platform QR codes so needed at launch. Or perhaps it is a play for markets in Asia (such as South Korea) where QR codes really have taken off (such as this example for Homeplus https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGaVFRzTTP4)
A few of the comments here indicates just how much of a US-centric bubble some of us live in. QR is alive and well. WeChat in China uses QR codes for just about everything from money transfer to buying nappies. And if it's in China, its a whole lot bigger than you imagine
FB has better leverage to make them relevant than anyone else has. If they think they are important, they are.
Don't really know if it ever was en masse. It is a fairly useful tool that is under used though. What it sent you to was usually a poorly designed site. The current technology is AR and does provide more options and has sparked much more imaginative content. Yet it seems to be having trouble gaining because it is all proprietary. The public must have a specific app and reaching them is difficult.
Though people have a love/hate relationship with QR codes, they are still used quite a bit and most operating systems will either support directly or have a supported app. They are still used as they are easy to print and hold a decent amount of info.
I think the only app that the people use QR codes is whatsapp for syncing the web version, I am from latinamerica I am not in the US.