Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nick Ford is Captain of The QR Code Galaxy

Below is my interview with French blogger Vandy Khamsay.

Introducing your company. Tappinn is your own words.
Tappinn is a web platform that easily enables subscribers to build unique, "QR-connected" mobile pages and sites (Smart Sites) that are compatible with ALL smartphone web browsers. Generate and manage unlimited QR codes for these pages while tracking them all using the Tappinn analytic suite. QR codes are only as valuable as the content behind them. Tappinn believes that successful QR code campaigns start BEYOND the CODE.

The Tappinn Solution

 -Upload images and link them anywhere on the web
-Create links that will prompt the phone to call or email a specific contact
-Build mobile user submission forms within pages to collect user info (enter to win or signup)
-Create links to social profiles and blogs
-Virtual address cards (vCards) that can be downloaded directly your phone with one touch
-Customize button and background colors for a unique combination
-Tappinn pages automatically include share links to FB, Twitter, email and "like" button.
-Pages can be turned into QR codes to share  
-Update and change page content in real time  
-Alias URL's for targeted branding

 -Name and categorize QR codes for every application
-QR codes are stored on the platform under the pages that they generated for.
-Easily generate codes use them immediately.
-Unlimited QR code generation and scans are allowed for no additional cost
-View top hit codes and pages, recent scans and pages landed on from the dashboard
-Track everything (page views, landing code, scans, geo locations, devices) and run CSV reports

What are the difference between QR codes and other 2D codes?
The 2-D barcode world is complex due the closed (indirect) proprietary codes on the market. This has contributed to the early adoption problems that have faced the technology often confusing the end user. The QR code is the only open format (direct) code that anybody can generate for free. Not only that, there are over 100 different apps that read QR codes due to their openness as opposed to the closed proprietary market where codes can only be read with app specific to the code. (ex. The only app that reads Microsoft Tag is Microsoft Tag) This is why I believe that the QR code makes the most sense in the long run. App creators are starting to think differently about what apps to build QR code reading function into. We are now seeing large retailers like Best Buy and social networks building QR code scanning function into their apps.

Who are your competitors and what makes you preferable over other companies offering comparable solutions?
There are lots of startups who are offering QR code or proprietary technology to communicate from print to mobile devices. The concept of scanning a code with your phone to instantly retrieve web content is FIRE but a majority of these companies are too caught up on the code itself and not focused enough BEYOND the CODE. This is far different than most QR code management platforms because of the tools and attention dedicated to the “QR-connected” page building process. The advantage to this is having a complete platform making it simple to build, deploy and track 100's of custom pages and QR codes all under one platform. Also, Tappinn QR codes are friendly to all QR code readers and we are currently working with some of those apps to offer rewards for scanning Tappinn Codes.

How do you earn money? Describe your business model?
Unlimited access to the Tappinn platform is a $49.95/mo subscription.  The membership includes unlimited QR code scanning, tracking and management within the platform. Companies and agencies can build 100's of unique "QR-connected" mobile pages which are all hosted on Tappinn's secure servers. This offers a complete package of page building, QR code creation and analytics that can't be found anywhere else on the web. Agencies can set up separate companies underneath them which will include an additional $49.95/mo subscription per company. This enables them to segregate client analytics and content within Tappinn. Agencies can also create username and passwords for clients and allow them to view only their analytics on Tappinn. Development options for the Tappinn team to build your site based on hourly design fees are available as well.                   

What are the best uses of QR codes that you have seen?
The TAG Heuer campaign powered by Tappinn is by far one of the most efficient, context sensitive QR code campaigns on record. The luxury watch brand built mobile product pages and galleries on Tappinn centered around their watch collections and celebrity ambassadors to use with Tappinn QR codes in their national print advertising. The difference is this "QR-connected" mobile site can be cloned and customized on Tappinn for ANY of their retailers. A customized TAG Heuer-Retailer site overlays store logo on every page, contact info, social links and a "find us" mapping function specific to the retailer location. This is brilliant because of the high demand for QR codes and MOBILE content. TAG retailers can sign up on Tappinn and instantly plug in to their own customized TAG Heuer mobile site that they can generate and track unlimited QR codes for. Retailers that have signed up already include Macy's, Jared the Galleria and Tourneau among others.

Why do your QR codes have a red square in the upper left corner? Is it a way to identify and recognize Tappinn’s QR codes?
The red square is not only our trademark but also symbolizes our dedication to delivering rich, secure, targeted mobile web content. We believe that in order for QR codes to carry weight in the physical world there must be value built in beyond the code. This is a philosophy that sets us apart from competitors and the red square allows users to recognize a great experience BEFORE they scan. EVERY code generated on Tappinn will include this red mark as an additional benefit to subscribers.

I’ve recently been asked about how QR codes will survive in the long term with RFID coming, what are your thoughts?
Wasn’t RFID supposed to be coming 4 years ago? Lol. RFID will be huge, NO doubt, but only for certain applications. The most efficient use will be in the form of secure mobile payments and mobile wallet function. Anybody who thinks QR codes took a long time to catch on will suffer the same anxiety waiting for this tech to go mainstream. There is currently one device on the U.S market (Nexus S) that's RFID enabled, not to mention the access to RFID chips are limited and costly. Also, it will be extremely difficult to create custom tags offering targeted content for unique contexts, unlike QR codes. I personally think there will be niches for a few different technologies in the mobile space converting the physical to mobile-digital.

What does Tappinn need or is looking for?
Tappinn is looking for brands and agencies that are hungry to connect with and deliver value to consumers via the mobile device in the form of QR code engagement. "QR connected" mobile content will become its own segment in the market and early adapters can be experts. 
What is your ultimate ambition for QR codes and Tappinn?
My dream/goal/ambition is the day that all consumers subconsciously perceive QR codes as valuable, especially the codes with the red square in the top left corner :) People will go out of their way to scan codes in the physical world purely because of the value and exclusiveness that lies BEYOND them. I can clearly visualize this world and I am captain of it.

Tappinn BEYOND the CODE                                     

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Ultimate QR Code For Business Cards by Tappinn

QR codes on business cards is not a new concept. Codes have been randomly popping up on the business cards of computer geeks and "techies" for over 2 years. Used in a variety of ways, QR codes on business cards are usually linked to a company website OR contain contact information (vCard) which can be downloaded instantly to the phone. This makes tons of sense given that the ultimate objective of TODAY's business card should be to land in someones digital contact manager (Outlook) or be bookmarked, followed, friended or mapped. The FASTEST way to allow this from a 2inch by 3inch piece of paper is to use a QR code, NO DOUBT! This can only be true if done correctly though. Let's look at all of the ways QR codes are being used on business cards  to understand the landscape.     

Common functions of QR codes used on business cards. 

-QR Code links to companies website (mobile or non mobile) 
-QR Code links to a Facebook profile 
-QR code links to Twitter page 
-QR code links to a blog 
-QR Code links to Linkedin profile 
-QR code links to Google Maps coordinates 
-QR code contains contact info (vCard)

This list is meant to give a snapshot of how QR codes are being used on business cards and the thought behind it. Tappinn has recognized that ALL of these QR code functions are important but much too static and inefficient by themselves.

Introducing the "Code Card", the ultimate QR code for professional business cards that includes all of the above and much more. Code Cards are created on the Tappinn platform and include a suite of analytics and custom design options that make them special to each Code Card holder. In essence, Code Cards team QR codes with a trackable, custom mobile "landing page" that includes your contact info, website, social profile links, phone prompts, logo, photos, map, Vcard and easy sharing function including a Facebook "like" button. This QR code solution ensures that your business card can be used as viable new tool for connecting with contacts in 2011.

Build "Code Cards" with an unlimited subscription to Tappinn BEYOND the CODE

Monday, December 6, 2010

QR Codes Used as Post-its on Advertisements

True Romance is a collection of diamond bridal rings and affordable bridal jewelry that reflects classic American design. Using the Tappinn platform and "post-it" themed QR code frame, this bridal brand gets it right with QRcodes! I'm in love with post-it QR codes!  

QR Codes Are Old, Yup, So Is The Internet

QR Codes are an OLD technology”… WTF? I keep hearing this from the tech-snob QR haters on Twitter or in the blogosphere as part of the famous “QR codes will never go mainstream” argument. While the QR code itself does in fact date back to 1994 when it was invented by Denso Wave as a quick way to track auto parts in Toyota factories, it has taken on a completely new identity when teamed with TODAY’s web-enables mobile device. Make NO mistake about it, 15 years AFTER the QR code was born, it is augmenting our lives in NEW ways every day! We are an instant gratification culture who already craves decoding celebrity gossip from the pages of US Weekly. QR codes could easily be the new form of content crack rock that U.S. consumers get hooked on as mobile continues to emerge into a behemoth. There will be MILLIONS of new mobile web users born into the world in 2011 btw. #Fact

Big in Japan. YES, Japan started using QR codes well before the U.S…. WE KNOW THIS. That does NOT mean they are that far ahead of us from user experience perspective. The devices over there simply aren’t web friendly enough to allow it. I’m also not sure the Japanese were using HTML 5 four years ago. Were they?  Americans have become so accustomed to hearing “Japan is light years ahead of the U.S. in mobile technology”. While this may be true for some unique applications, we still see the Japanese line the streets of Tokyo for the iPhone release. Hmmm. If they are so far ahead of us then why do we see a record demand for an American mobile device?

Ralph Lauren debuted the first QR code advertisement in the U.S. almost 3 years ago! Again, the devices were NOT in people hands yet for campaign to be as effective as it would be, say, today. To give you an idea, Android didn't exist. Part of the criticism about QR codes is that they have been around for awhile but have NOT caught on to the masses. If you exclude Blackberry (QR experience sucks) from the equation, REAL web-enabled smartphones are only about 15% of the market. The potential is ridiculous, no wonder QR codes don’t have mass adoption. It’s simply a numbers game. To bet against QR codes as a legitimate medium for mobile web content delivery, at this point, is like betting against smartphone growth! 

It’s all about the web, baby. Apple was first to bring real internet experience to the palm of our hands and now we are hooked. Each day a new Smartphone user is born wondering how they ever lived in the land of flip phones and limited data plans. NOW, freshly equipped with the web in the palm of their hands, these consumers are open to an entirely new world. The ability to access content from anywhere on our phones via the web is evolving at lightning speeds. For another example, take a look at 1D UPC barcode scanning. Same principles apply. The 1D barcode has been a staple of our society for decades yet they have only recently become useful to everyday consumers when scanned with particular app to open up a world of information that can be valuable to the buying process. This is a completely NEW model revolved around an OLD technology (1D barcodes).

SO the question is....Should QR codes even be considered "technology" at all OR are they just an ingredient to a larger "quick response mobile web technology" landscape? 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Who Framed QR Codes?

Tappinn has introduced a concept called "Framing" into the QR code marketing world. This is NOT to be confused with "Designer QR codes" or actual QR code manipulation. These easy tools that Tappinn subscribers can use in their advertisements to enhance engagement and curiosity while separating the code from the ad's artwork. QR code "Frames" could be a big step forward in the evolution of QR (Quick Response) communication because they expose the creative possibilities of code usage in print advertising.