08 June 2010

Are mobile "bar codes" a new standards battle?

On a recent canal tour in Amsterdam, I noticed a QR code emblazoned on the side of a canal. At the recent Google I/O meeting, participants were given T-shirts with these codes on them. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette also prints a QR code on the front page.

If you haven't interacted with these, the basic idea is that you can, through your mobile phone, use the code to access information. You need a code scanner/interpreter on your phone, which takes images from the phones camera, decodes them, and then passes the decoded information to your phone's web browser, which then calls up the web site via your wireless Internet connection.

Microsoft has developed a denser code which it is trying to popularize. This code uses colors and other shapes as opposed to the black-and-white squares used by QR codes. It is not hard to conclude that this Microsoft code is in many ways superior since it can encode more information for a given surface area.

On the canal tour, I started to wonder whether this is the latest incarnation of the standards battles, the most famous of which is BetaMax vs. VHS, and the most recent of which is HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray. In this case, QR codes seem to have the early lead because of their popularity in Japan, because they can be printed in black and white, and because they have (implicitly) Google's backing. Microsoft, for its part, has given away the required mobile phone software but must now convince publishers and content providers to use its code.

Is it a standards battle? Is it one that is already over or will Microsoft's technology win the day in the end?


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mobile bar hire sussex said...

That should be helpful for the clients and the people handling the mobile bar. Transaction will be faster and much more convenient too.