There have been a lot of 2D-barcode upstarts as of late, most of them focusing on making their dot boxes attractive and marketing-friendly. QR-codes, the standard here in Japan, are looked upon as ugly or industrial-looking with low potential to be integrated into a company's look and feel.

Not so. Check out LogoQ and DesignQR. They crush most of the marketing claims touted by other companies, and they can be read with any standard QR-code reader. You know, the reader that comes standard in nearly all Japanese keitai and many Nokia devices. Go ahead, scan a sample.

Here are a few samples from LogoQ.

Here are a few from DesignQR.


A walk on the For-Side

Terrie's Take has an insightful article about the rise and fall of For-Side in Europe and the circumstances surrounding their withdrawal from the European market. Definitely worth a read.


Mobile Marketing Trends in Japan

eMarketer is running an article (tomorrow according to the date ;P) about how mobile marketing is seeing a revival in Japan. Using keitai as promotional tools is not new in Japan, but there has been some serious growth over the past year according to the referenced Dentsu 2006 Expenditure Report (PDF).

The use of mobile advertising in nationwide mass campaigns by clients in industries such as beverages and automobiles is already a well-established approach, and total spending in this medium rose to ¥39.0 billion (up 35.4%) in 2006.
Another referenced report from NPD Group indicates that 2D barcodes have become one of the most used features on Japanese mobile phones. Emarketer has made a nice chart:

Anyway, you should check out the original story at eMarketer and have a look at Dentsu's website for variety of free reports.

Snap Happy

Another example of upping the "physical world connection" ante from the 2D barcode players. Magnet Harlequin, a UK marketing/technology company, is using image recognition technology called Snap Happy to analyze images sent in by users so a suitable response can be sent back to the user. This is already in action as it was used to promote the latest Mr. Bean movie in the UK earlier this year. Users snap a pic of the movie poster with their mobile and send it via MMS. They then get directed to some free Mr. Bean content. Very nice. Indeed this is one small step to "creating an internet of physical things". This appears to be just what Mobot is doing.
While I do think this is very cool and has tons of applications, I do not think this will displace barcodes any time soon. At least not barcodes that can store information (and not just a reference to information on a server somewhere). Server-side image recognition is an interesting call-to-action, but client-side decoding is faster and more practical in less sensational, everyday cases.