Point and Find pointing way to more m-commerce
Back in the dim and distant past – well, mid-2004 actually, but that’s a geological age in mobile technology terms – I spoke with Peter Walker from Bango about what were then called “Bango spots”. Like a number of other companies, Bango was intrigued by the possibility of incorporating bar code readers into mobile handsets with cameraphones and utilizing them to facilitate one-click access to WAP sites.
As Walker said at the time:
“When the first WAP phones came out the only way to navigate was via an URL, and the average URL for most people would have involved 50-70 keystrokes: no user in the right mind was going to stand there in the street and enter 70 keystrokes and get it all right. We couldn’t believe that the phone manufacturers had come up with a system that was so unusable… Companies forgot that they should be aiming at the median person in the population’s technical ability rather than the pointy-head who wa a web-user, and you have to make this incredibly straightforward to do.”
Now, in terms of finding my way around the handset, I’m definitely far closer to the median person than the pointy-head. And as Walker talked about the Bango spots, it struck me that here was a simple, user-friendly means of driving rich-media mobile adoption: just point and click, and you’re into the Coca-Cola WAP site.
And Japan agreed. While Peter Walker and I were chatting, Japan was already beginning to embrace the QR Code. By 2007 a majority of the handsets in the country came complete with a QR code reader. The result is that most companies are embedding these barcodes within a variety of media – magazines, Internet, posters – and an ever-increasing volume of m-commerce can be directly or indirectly attributed to them.
Unfortunately, for both Bango and the mobile industry in general, persuading the various members of the European value chain of the efficacy of the idea proved to be a fairly arduous task, and Bango eventually abandoned the initiative; elsewhere in Europe (and the US), other would-be barcode-incorporaters met with little success. A few brands tentatively tried ad hoc promotions trialling QR codes, but made little effort to incorporate them into longer campaigns.
That is likely to change. While much of the talk at the Congress in February was about LTE and green initiatives, there was increasing interest – at last, at last! – in QR codes. And – crucially – Nokia has entered the game. The company has been showcasing its Point and Find application at the CTIA: this simplifies the access process even further, in that the user doesn’t now even need to click the camera button, just point it.
Point and Find is a canny move by Nokia, augmenting its shift into the Internet space. Hopefully the leading brands will now recognize the significance of the application and in turn seek to capitalize on it.