Proprietary datamatrix codes can be very alluring for big businesses. Such codes allow for a certain level of exclusivity among consumers and advertisers. Most companies investing in proprietary codes often develop their own code scanning application for mobile devices, as the codes cannot be deciphered any other way. AT&T has been an advocate of proprietary mobile barcodes for just over a year now, and the company is beginning to see the problem with their approach to mobile marketing.
In the world of mobile marketing, QR codes reign supreme. This is due to the fact that the codes are both free to generate and easy to use. Any barcode scanner can decipher the codes, and the vast majority of these applications are free. Within QR codes is the best definition of the goal of mobile marketing ventures: Engage consumers without getting in their way.
AT&T has long held to the belief that their proprietary codes, which are very similar to QR codes, are superior. This belief, however, has been shaken by the lackluster acceptance of the codes. To scan the codes, mobile users must first download an application, which is not free. Those wishing to make use of the codes, such as advertisers, have to go through AT&T’s Create-a-Code service, which can be a time consuming process. Given the apparent problems in the proprietary system, the telecommunications giant seems to have had a slight change of heart.
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At the recent WaterFire urban art event in Providence, Rhode Island, AT&T hosted a QR code scavenger hunt. Participants were encouraged to download AT&T code scanning application, but were not required to do so to take part in the event. A number of QR codes were placed throughout the downtown area, which were linked to a number of prizes. For the event, AT&T offered their scanning application for free.
Time will tell whether the big-name company will adopt a more conventional stance on mobile marketing, but it would seem that they are veering away from a proprietary system.