I love QR codes. I'm unashamed about that. I've helped business and charities use them effectively. I think QR codes are doing pretty well thank-you-very-much.
Yet, for some reason, those little black and white squares are really divisive. Some people seem to hate them with an irrational and burning passion.
Perhaps it's because QR codes are free to generate - so there's not huge profit in them. Perhaps because they only require black ink, they're ridiculously cheap to print - unlike, say, NFC. Perhaps it's just because QR codes weren't created by hipsters in skinny jeans, working out of an office in Shoreditch?
Who knows? One thing is for sure, normal people love them!
Yeah, that's right! Sure, there are snarky blogs which decry QR's lack of popularity, but the facts don't bear that out.
I'm not going to show you "sentiment analysis" or some Gartner-style "hype cycle" - I'm going to deal in cold, hard, facts.
The supermarket chain Tesco has been running this ClubCard promotion in its stores over the last few weeks.
So, the Sixty-Four-Thousand-Dollar Question is.... How many people scanned the QR code?
The clue is in the question. That code had 64,000 scans since Tesco started the promotion! It's still gathering over 6,000 per month.
Now, that may not be huge considering the customer-base of Tesco - but it's still a significant number of people. Not all of them will be mobile developers with high-end phones. The cross section of the population who shop at Tesco seem to like scanning QR codes.
What's also interesting is the handset demographics of people who scan codes. How does reality match up with our perceptions of what's hot and what's not?
- A slim majority of Tesco scanners are using iOS - 53%.
- The Android OS accounts for a third of scans. That's good - but not the runaway success that some have hoped for.
- Once mighty, the BlackBerry Operating System is clinging on with 10%. Perhaps it's enough of a foothold for the Canadians to stage a comeback - but I doubt it.
- As for Windows 7? Let's be generous and call it 2.5%. Even though Microsoft is pushing the platform hard, the public just aren't buying it.
This Tesco campaign is only one data point among many. QR codes are going from strength to strength in the UK and, until NFC falls dramatically in price and has pervasive hardware, they will continue to be loved by customers.