Friday, April 13, 2007

Mobile Code Scanning in China [BusinessWeek]

Excellent piece today in BusinessWeek on code scanning campaigns in China: "The lucrative potential of the mainland's tech-starved mobile advertising market could be unlocked by two-dimensional barcodes". Speaks to the potential value of code scanning, and the issues innovators see in this emerging space. Here's some of my favorite quotes:

Value for the user:
"(barcodes turn)...your mobile phone into a giant mouse pointer"
Value to the operator/ad agency/brand:
"it can help advertisers build detailed databases and customer profiles. Location, content viewed, mobile phone used - it can all be traced"

Evolving China market:
"China's mobile advertising market is starved of such innovative delivery methods. The market is currently dominated by SMS advertising, which relies on the cheapness of untargetted text messages. SMS advertising is a "push" technology, leaving consumers at the mercy of advertisers. But with barcodes, the consumer chooses whether or not to click"

On the maturity of the evolving space:
"It's a chicken and egg situation, you have to get enough content to attract consumers, and enough consumers to attract advertisers. Right now we just want to get the motion going"

On who will decide on preferred code format selection:
"Which barcode standard ultimately wins China Mobile's favor and dominates the advertising space is still up in the air. The consumer, however, won't want an advertising system that doesn't work.

"The end-user doesn't care what technology they use. As long as one service is more convenient, [he] will choose it"

I think that mobile code scanning should be absolutely free for consumers. there's enough cake for the advertisers to feed on to sponsor these things. critical for uptake. Also critical, is preloading the client on the phone; a critical challenge for mass consumer adoption.

The comment on the availability of IP access and network resources is a good one. The code scanning experience should be rewarding to the consumer, and thus the code itself should contain sufficient information without requiring the consumer to log onto a WAP server just to know what this code does. This approach relies on the availability of a data plan and that the user is willing to pay the charges. This approach also removes the options to take local actions such as playing a file or adding an event to your calendar.

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