Tag Archives: mobile barcodes
Having a name that tends to make jocks snicker doesn’t seem to have hurt Dick’s Sporting Goods‘s business. The largest publicly traded athletic store chain in the country operates 409 brick and mortar stores in the US as well as a an online shopping site at dickssportinggoods.com.
Dick’s just went mobile with an attractive mobile new Website at dsports.mobi. It was launched with a 2D barcode promotion on what is allegedly the world’s largest HDTV video screen during the nationally televised Dick’s Sporting Goods Cowboys Classic college football game (University of Oklahoma vs. Brigham Young University) at the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium this past Labor Day weekend. Fans with Quick Response (QR) code-enabled phones were directed to the new mobile site for an exclusive offer. It’s nice to see some mainstream U.S. exposure for 2D mobile barcodes, a technology that is huge in Japan and has great potential for mobile marketing and site discovery. 2D bar codes have failed to take off outside of Japan thanks to squabbling over competing proprietary formats and the reluctance of handset makers and operators to include code readers in most phones. I’m especially pleased that Dick’s choose to use the QR code format which is the Japanese standard. It’s also royalty free and is the most widely used mobile barcode format in the world.
Surprisingly there doesn’t seem to be any way to actually purchase anything on the site. There is a web form on each item page with a field for the quantity but no submit or “Add to cart” button. I tried it with several different mobile and desktop browsers and was unable to find any way to make a purchase. This is in spite of a press release that clearly says
“The mobile site, which was designed and created by Pittsburgh-based Branding Brand (www.BrandingBrand.com), allows people to browse and purchase a complete selection of sporting goods online.”
Not to mention that the exclusive offer promoted during the football game launch is apparently a $10 off on online purchases coupon on the front page of the mobile site. Too bad there is no way to actually use it! I suspect that after Dick’s spent quite a bit of money to launch their mobile site the shopping cart feature just didn’t get finished in time to make it into the first release. You would think that they would have at least reworded the press release to reflect reality though.
I suppose the mobile site is useful for price comparison while shoping at competitor’s stores until the mobile shopping cart functionality is implemented. There’s a store locator on the mobile site so if Dick’s has a better price you can check to see if there is store nearby. Source: Press Release via Mobility.mobi
Filed in: Wap Review Directory – Shopping
Ratings: Content Usability
Ready.mobi Score: 2 “Bad”
Mobile Link: dsports.mobi
Today the CTIA announced a "Camera-Phone Based Barcode Scanning White Paper" (PDF) at the morning keynote. There was a demonstration of scanning a bar code with a camera phone to launch a video on the handset.
The white paper describes a somewhat complicated indirect access architecture where the code scanning application sends an identifier to a central "Clearing House" which routes it to a "Campaign Manager" associated with a particular service. The Campaign Manager then sends a message to the handset application directing it to perform an action such as opening a mobile site in the browser, adding a contact to the address book or a date to the calendar or pre-populating an SMS, email or phone call.
The layered architecture seems to be designed to let the carriers control and monetize the process. The white paper also talks about providing subscriber demographic information to campaigns including age, zip code, gender, household income!, date/time and handset make and model. Information would only provided when "technically, ethically and legally possible".
In an interview, CTIA Vice-President of Wireless Internet Development Mark Desautels predicted that shipping handsets using the technology will be widely available in 12-18 months.
I'm excited that the US mobile industry sees the value of 2D bar code technology which is already well proven in Asia and that at least one of the supported codes is based on an open standard. I'm disappointed however that they feel the need to monetize the process beyond the added SMS, call and data traffic it would naturally generate. I suspect that the layered architecture will also introduce unnecessary latency into the process compared with the direct access model used in Japan. There are also the obvious privacy issues associated with sharing so much demographic information with bar code campaigns.
What do you think? Comments are open.
Related Post: QR Codes
It looks like mobile 2D barcodes are starting to catch on in Europe at least. When I was in Japan a couple of years ago they were everywhere, on handbills, maps, business cards, product packaging and in magazines. The idea is that you point a camera phone at a barcode and take a picture. Software in the phone decodes the image and takes you to a mobile website, downloads a ringtone or adds contact information to your phone's address book. Almost all Japanese phones come with code readers.
The rest of the world is starting to adopt this technology. Nokia is bundling a barcode reader with the E90, N93, N93i and N95 (including the US market N95-3). With millions of these phones in circulation we are finally at the point where if you put a barcode on something, there's actually a good chance that someone will spot it AND have a phone with a barcode reader. Marketers seem to be taking notice too, lately QR codes have appeared on British movie and TV series posters, car ads in Germany and in a South African newspaper. The BBC is using them on promotional materials and Google is putting them in print ads!
I think one of the best uses for barcodes is mobile website discovery. At WapReview.com, I've created a directory of over 1000 mobile sites which you can search and browse to find sites with a particular type of content or ones that just look interesting. That's good but how do you get those sites on your phone? You could just type in the URL but that's a hassle on a phone keypad. Or you could point your phone's browser at yeswap.com, a mobile portal that mirrors the directory structure of WapReview.com and is searchable. But now there's an easier way, every site on WapReview.com has a QR Code included as part of its listing. Here's an example:
It started when I found this great open source library for creating QR Codes, the same code format used in Japan and the most widely used type of mobile 2D codes in the world. The library is by Y. Swetake and it's pure PHP so it even works on my shared hosting where I can't install binaries.
Using the library I threw a little code together to display a 2D code along side each listing in the WapReview directory. So if you're browsing through the directory and see a site you'd like to try you can just snap it with your 2D reader equipped phone to load the site in your phone's browser. I did find that reading codes off a CRT monitor was hit or miss, only working about half the time, but with an LCD monitor it worked very reliably using the N95. Give it a try. If you don't have one of the Nokia's with a bundled reader there are several readers you can try:
Nokia offers a reader download for the N80.
For other phones, go to Semapedia.org, who's goal is to tag real world places with a 2D codes that point to a Wikipedia article about that place. Semapedia's homepage has a web form to help you find a reader compatible with your phone. If your phone is not listed on Semapedia here are several QR Code readers you can try:
Quickmark has readers for all S60 phones, most Windows Mobile devices and the SE P900 and P910.
There are a couple of Java ME readers from i-nigma and Kaywa.
If you want to create your own QR Codes you don't need to install Mr. Swetake 's code on a web server, there are a number of QR encoders on the web. Nokia has one as does Mowser.
I can't mention 2D codes with putting in a plug for Scott Shaffer's blog, The Pondering Primate which is all about what Scott calls, "Real World Hyperlinks" which includes both barcodes and NFC tags. Kaywa's blog, All About Mobile Life, is another good starting point for anyone interested to learning about 2D technology and the growing business opportunities around it.
If you do (or don't) find the 2D codes useful leave a comment. Also, if you find a reader that works on your phone I'd love to hear about it, particularly Java readers for mass market phones. I haven't found one that works on my Motorola i855. Kaywa's reader does work on a Sprint Samsung A920 I tried. You have to manually close the Kaywa reader before the browser will launch on the A920, it would be nice if the reader closed itself automatically, but it does reliably decode QR codes which is pretty impressive considering the phone only has a 1 MP camera.
Update: I got an email from Roger mentioning his blog, 2d code. I just took a look and agree 2d code is well worth visiting, in fact right on the front page I learned about two more QR Code readers. ZXING is an open source effort supporting J2ME (although it didn't work on the two Java phones I tried, a Samsung A920 anda Motorola i855) , J2SE, and Android! The other is iMatrix a native app for hacked iPhones.