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February 15, 2007



I share your enthusiasm for this mobile area.

I wonder how long it will be before the Qode platform takes hold in the United States.


I think about the barcode links every time I'm typing in a long address or at least the search keywords that I know will land me on the right site...

Too bad that I didn't think about this when buying my current E60 phone 7+ months ago. Not sure if I even knew about these barcode links back then. I thought E60 had all I wanted and a camera can be troublesome in situations where you aren't allowed to bring one along. If barcode links start appearing in Europe, I'll end up buying a new phone sooner than that current average of 18 months. Fast spread of new features and all that. :p

(And then I'll keep the old phone for when I can't take a camera along or to separate work-related communication or something. This stuff really sneaks up on you, and trend statistics win!)


I love these barcodes, too. Always tried to persuade my client and colleagues to use these for some projects, but we never did. Have you seen this picture of a giant QR in Tokyo?

I installed a barcode reader on my phone and I can't tell about the usability of the reader on your N93, but usability is shaky. Go to menue, make a picture, get the info and maybe do something with it. This all takes it time and clicks. And if you have a low resolution camera and it's too dark it won't work at all.

Anyway right now barcode/camera is the best way to bridge the gap between the tangible and virtual world, but as soon as NFC will get mature this will definetly change...

Bruno Rodrigues

These barcodes are kind of old news, and used to be called "semacodes" some three years ago. Unfortunately there were some stupid patents that kept the technology unused for this long (thank you european software patents!). My team looked at them in 2004 and we weren't able to do anything without paying stupid licence fees to those guys. It seems they are finally opening their eyes and seeing that they need to kill the patent or at least licence it with a more sensible price. Thank you Nokia, if you're the one pushing them hard.

Another example of how software patents can be really bad for the general user and how a malefical company can pick up an existing idea, patent it, and completely kill the idea forever.

Paola Cabrera V.

Check an excellent community-driven project:
"Hyperlink your world. With Semapedia you can connect Wikipedia knowledge with relevant places in physical space. ..."

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Swampthing, PekkaR, Timo, Bruno and Paola

Thank you for writing. Sorry I somehow didn't catch it that you had comments here.

Swampthing - I'd guess this will cross over the Atlantic (or actually Pacific) rather much faster than most cellphone innovations, because a) Americans understand marketing and this is very much a marketing thing. b) the cameraphone population in America today is ahead of the early cameraphone populations in Europe a few years ago when these were first considered, and c) because of iPhone. June will be watershed moment, suddenly everybody in California will go mobile phone (cellphone) mad in June and this will be one of the hot stories. Or so thinks this one consultant ha-ha..

PekkaR - ha-ha, isn't that so true. It was bad enough with PCs but now with phones, it is hardly more than weeks after our brand new toy (phone) when we already hear of the next version thats just too good, and we want the next one. Has the industry conditioned us geeks very well, ha-ha, like Pavlov's dogs. New phone, new feature - GOTTA have it. Oh, no, new phone?New feature... gotta have THAT one. Wait, is there a new phone...

Timo - good point on usability. The best phones in Japan and Korea have it on one button. On the Nokia N-93 I have to go through the menu, but I don't have enough of the barcodes (yet) to get to play with this feature every day ha-ha...

Bruno - yes, you're right. I think they were first launched in South Korea in 2003. But like I said, even though I had lectured on them and preached the story like a good disciple, this was finally the first time I had one on my own phone. And yes, I heard the early licenses were a serious drawback.

Paola - thanks, will take a look.

Thank you all for writing. You may also want to read my blog this week on Mobile as the 7th Mass Media, it touches briefly on 2D barcodes and makes many other outrageous claims in my particular style, ha-ha.

Tomi Ahonen :-)


If you are interested to know more about Qode, please see Mr. Jeff Mould’s blog.
He’s the President and CEO of Announce Mobile.

My favorite blog posts:
Why Qode?
2D codes…again
Qode - an indepth look at the technology
Why Qode is valuable to Hip2D?

Malcolm Lambe

I'm as excited as you are about the applications for 2D barcodes! I've just written about it on my blog under "2D Barcodes - raising the bar "- I'd be interested in your comments. à bientôt, Mal, Paris.

Alan moore

Malcolm, can you send a specific link




It seems like a lot of space used to convey a reasonably simple message.

Why would you want to disguise information from consumers like this? The billboards I have seen, although they draw my eye, I have to whip out my phone and capture the message somehow in order to find out more?

I like it because it is a novel idea, but a simple domain name written clearly is direct and it works, why change to capture less of the market less of the time?

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Frank

Good point. But consider a typical web address like this page, it is

That is quite a handful even on a laptop keyboard, and quite miserable on a mobile phone keypad. The beauty of QR codes (Quick Response..) or 2D Barcodes, is that all you do is point your cameraphone at the squibble, and it magically displays the text, without any typing.

Users TOTALLY love it. We do so much thumb-ing on SMS text messages (a third of Korean teenagers already average 100 texts EVERY DAY - in the UK thats already 10% etc) that any "vacation" from text entry on a mobile phone is most welcome.

I have seen people starting to use the 2D Barcode reader, and it seems to be the same pattern everywhere. After you "discover" the feature, you suddenly look for those 2D barcodes everywhere, it is so cool and easy and simple, you WANT to point your cameraphone at those links. You don't necessarily then follow onto the links, but the joy is truly child-like, a wonder, of "this is how all web addresses should be". Whimsical, magical, wonderful.

That is why the adoption rate is so incredible.

PS - obviuosly if you want to learn more, my latest book Digital Korea has 2D Barcodes as one of its case studies ha-ha.. (and if you haven't received the free sampler including one chapter, the foreword, etc yet, send me an e-mail to tomi at tomiahonen dot com and I'll send you the pdf sampler of the book)

Thanks for writing

Tomi :-)


Hi Tomi,

I'm surprised you did not mention YOUR qr code to show how a message can be conveyed in the code itself. I think it is a perfect example!

Andrés López


I got a Motorola A1200 wich can read 2D barcodes, do you know where can I get a free 2D barcode generator software? This page made me really happy because my phone could read the 2d barcode posted here.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Tom and Andres

Tom - good point. I am still trying to do the basics of raising the profile. Lets do the more advanced stuff a bit later :-)

Andres, I'm very happy and totally can appreciate how you feel. I was just in Japan this Monday speaking at Mobile Monday Tokyo and a quarter of the business cards I received had the 2D barcodes already on them.

I made my own at the NTT DoCoMo site over a year ago and am not sure if I can even find that site now. What the handset makers should do, is include the barcode generation software (or link to site) when they ship the phones with the readers. Lots of their customers feel like you, would want to now use the 2D barcodes, and feel unhappy when we can't even now use this new technology...

Thanks for writing

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Paulo Carvalho


Can anyone tell me if there exist any list with all the cell phones which has a 2D barcode reader by default?
The thing is I want to buy a cell phone with a 2D barcode reader but I know only 3-4 models.


Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Paulo

Good question. I haven't seen any such site or survey, but it would be of interest. I think eventually this becomes one of those standard features they tick on the boxes of comparisons of phones, such as in the catalogues of big operators and in the stores of major phone resellers like Carphone Warehouse.

But as of now, I haven't seen anything like it. If any of our readers knows of some, please post here

Thanks for writing Paulo

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Paul Jardine

I seem to remember a company in Sweden doing a similar thing with normal barcodes and a reader attachment that could be added to a phone (before phones had cameras).
I thought it was a great idea then (must have been around 1998 or 1999), but it never took off. Perhaps 2D barcodes and cameraphones give it a chance of being successful, let's hope so.

Paul Jardine

I seem to remember a company in Sweden doing a similar thing with normal barcodes and a reader attachment that could be added to a phone (before phones had cameras).
I thought it was a great idea then (must have been around 1998 or 1999), but it never took off. Perhaps 2D barcodes and cameraphones give it a chance of being successful, let's hope so.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Paul

Good point. There were also some ideas (some still in use) of sending traditional barcodes to mobile phones as MMS picture messages (as stripes to be shown on the phone display) which could then be scanned using a more-or-less regular barcode scanner like those in the supermarkets etc.

But the big opportunity really is around the 2D barcodes. I took a recent survey of the business cards I collected from random colleagues I met in Tokyo and found that about a third had 2D Barcodes on them. I added one to mine last year as well. But the nicest part is showing the concept to those who have never experienced them, and seeing that look of wonder, wow, that is cool...

Thanks for writing

Tomi :-)


I've heard a lot recently about Scanbuy doing a trial with sprint in the U.S. I also herad IATA is setting guidlelines for all airports to have 2D barcode readers by 2010. I live in N.A and am wondering if brands or companies are promoting and using this technology now. New phones are more than capable as well there are numerous barcode reader out there as well. I figure if Europe is using it, we should start to see it arrive in N.A soon as well thanks

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