NFC to Eclipse QR Codes - A Reply

Last week, an article was published on MediaPost Publications by Mark Walsh titled, "NFC To Eclipse QR Codes." In the article, Mr. Walsh repeatedly cites a recent Yankee Group study, which makes the case for NFC and how the technology "will eventually trump QR Codes in terms of usability, security and capacity." Not for nothing, but I believe Mr. Walsh (and Nick Holland, the author of the Yankee Group study) is way off base. Why? Simple. It's not a zero sum game.

As I often tell clients and readers, it's my belief that QR Codes and NFC can coexist in the marketplace, as well as in a marketer's tool box. Between the two technologies, they each have their own set of advantages and disadvantages, and each one may or may not serve to accomplish the goals and objectives of a certain situation or campaign, either standalone or in tandem. Why people feel the need to place "bets" or make predictions on the future of QR Codes, NFC, augmented reality, etc. I have no idea. Sure there is business to be had by QR Code and NFC providers but, from a marketer's perspective, that should not matter, or it should matter less. What should be most important to a marketer is that he/she learns about and understands the capabilities, functionality, cost and best practices that are associated with each technology and how and why either technology can or should be used to establish a remarkable brand/mobile/interactive experience.

Each technology has its own merits but, beyond this, what's really at play is the print to digital experience itself and the content that stands behind the technology. An advertiser can make use of the hottest technology on the market, but if the underlying campaign offers very little to the consumer or is poorly implemented then it will all be for naught and the brand will suffer in the long term.


  1. Good post, I have to explain the differences between QR and NFC about 10 times a day, so slowly but surely people are realising they can coexist.

  2. I totally agree Roger. You can't easily print an NFC tag from your desktop printer or include it in a newspaper ad or direct mail piece. While NFC tags will definitely have their place, QR Codes will still be much more accessible.

  3. Steve and Cameron: Thank you for your comments.

  4. Yes, they can co-exist, and will, to some degree.

    But, it's not "just" about the content and the campaigns.

    People are creatures of habit more than anything else. People (in the West) have not become habitual QR users.

    But, once they start getting a taste of NFC and it becomes habitual (primarily vis a vis "payments") then we will see rapid user adoption of NFC that lunges into the mainstream in a way that QR codes have not (again, in the West).

    It is pure speculation, but between NFC's ability to be a 'mindless habit,' and the adoration that NFC has from an advertisers perspective (where there really is little or no love for QR), QR missed it's window of opportunity to become a defacto "standard" that people became habitual users of. Too many garbage and no-budget campaigns killed the Golden Goose.

    It's nice that someone plays the piano while the ship goes down. Unfortunately, music alone can't keep a ship afloat.

  5. Guest 2: Thank you for the comments. It's hard to argue with what you say, but at least you speak from a sense of speculation, as opposed to shouting down from the mountain top. Time will simply tell.

  6. Roger, it is also a matter of perception. The general trend of public perception is not on the side of QR.

    It missed it's opportunity. Your blog has documented it's fail.

    If CNN are writing articles like this, this is where public (as well as professional) opinion is heading (presuming you don't own a QR code company):