With 2000AD going digital, here’s another interesting use of new technology.
MocoNews reports UK tabloid The Sun has rolled out a quick response (QR) mobile barcode service that it hopes will enrich print ads by giving readers a quick way to access mobile web sites and their content.
Readers must first download the QR reader from software firm i-nigma on to their phones (some 150 handsets are supported), though some of the latest Nokia handsets have it pre-installed. (That’s a plus, as I know from experience that the vast majority of web users don’t like to download additional software to make a web site work, and I expect this will be even more the case for mobile, with their still limited memory capacity).
Once they have the reader on their phone, the service enables readers to send a photo of the QR code found in its paper in a print ad to launch them directly into its mobile sites where readers can download content such as videos, film trailers, and music.
There are of course other applications beyond providing connections to the mobile web: imagine taking this one stage further than downloading electronic content and being able to take a photo of an image, send it off and voila, you’ve just ordered a comic or magazine, the cost charged to your phone bill (the price of an item may admittedly might be higher than buying it in the shop, but I suspect publishers will set the prices to encourage usage at first). Fulfilment is a doddle: no filling in addresses as the seller simply uses the billing address for the mobile.
NMA.co.uk reports that News International, The Sun’s owner, is watching the take-up of the service closely, and may roll it out across all of its titles (which include The Times) if it proves successful. For its launch yesterday, the tabloid splashed the service across an eight-page pull-out supplement.
QR codes have proven highly popular in Japan since their introduction in 2002, where they have allowed people to download content as dense as mobile novels (and, I expect, mobile comics). Almost every Japanese phone ships with a built-in barcode reader that can decode both QR Codes and standard barcodes you find on retail items.
The potential cost savings in terms of advertising are enormous: publishers could run ads with a number of simple images for subscription deals for their entire stable of titles, enabling them to promote many more titles or products in a smaller space – a poster? a beermat? – than they could through traditional advertising.
This system could surely combine an electronic download with a real world item very easily. It will be interesting to see how this develops…