Tuesday, April 17, 2007

FAQ From Announce Mobile's CEO Jeff Mould

Continuing on yesterday’s post regarding 2D codes, Hip2D, and our partnership with NeoMedia to utilize their qode® technology I would like to take the time to address some of the more common questions we receive regarding this technology. Below is a brief FAQ of some common questions. While I am not going to go in depth on any of them in particular, they should give you an idea and hopefully answer some questions you may have regarding the 2D barcode realm.

1. Is “qode” a standard for 2D barcodes?

No, qode is a technology for reading and responding to the 2D code. Currently the primary standard the qode®reader is able to read is the Aztec Code, however, more are coming. The Datamatrix and QR Codes are well on their way.

For a better definition of all the various standards I would suggest searching on Google or Wikipedia. Going in depth here would be a long and tedious post when the answers are out there already.

In summary though, the biggest difference between the various standards is the amount of data they can store and how that data is processed, i.e. is the information stored directly on the 2D barcode or does it redirect the application to a website via a central server.

2. Why has adoption of 2D codes been so slow and why is the market hesitant?

The biggest reason the market has been slow is that there are so many different standards. There are some companies that are developing their own 2D to work specifically with their application. The way the current market is structured is almost like if each appliance in your house had a different type of plug on it and the builder had to guess as to what is most common and put that type throughout your home, hoping that the majority of your appliances would work. The same holds true for 2D codes. Brands are still trying to sort out what is going to be the standard, or at minimum what is going to be the most widely accepted. They are quietly sitting back and letting the different companies battle it out.

The formation of MC2 (Mobile Codes Consortium) is a significant jump in the right direction of developing the standard in the market. In fact their primary goal at this time is to develop that standard.

3. Why does it take so long to get the applications capable of reading the codes to market?

Welcome to the world of mobile. Unlike applications designed for a PC, applications for phones have a typically longer development lifecycle. There are numerous hoops that must be jumped through for each carrier, each phone manufacturer, and sometimes even down to a specific model. Releasing one version of the software that runs on all phones is impossible. Each phone manufacturer has a different set of APIs and each application must be developed independently.

Additionally, there are several steps beyond that. Again, unlike Microsoft, application developers looking to deploy their mobile application on a large scale must go through various certifications at both the manufacturer and carrier level. These all take time and add to the development time.

Plain and simply, it is impossible to launch a large scale application, such as qode reader, by just throwing together some code and posting it on a website for download. Each application is throughly tested and certified to run on the device and thus development time is increased.

4. Are there currently any plans or are any carriers going to integrate the technology on their phones? What about manufacturers?

Right now I really can’t answer this question completely. One thing is for certain in the answer, it will be a whole lot easier to gain carrier and/or manufacturer acceptance with a standard in the market.

The other half of this question that needs to be understood is just because a manufacturer agrees to include the application in their device, does not necessarily mean that the carriers that utilize that particular make and model will allow their subscribers to use the application. Again, without going in depth here, the carriers will and do lock down various applications that come pre-installed on the phones.

The key is more getting both the carriers AND the manufacturers to accept the application and allow the subscriber to use it.

5. Is Announce Mobile providing development help or guidance on the development of the qode reader?

No, the development of qode reader and the technology behind it are strictly the responsibility of NeoMedia.

6. Does Announce Mobile plan to support the various standards once supported by the application?

Announce Mobile will support the standards that qode reader supports. We are a partner with NeoMedia and as a partner we will support their decisions and initiatives in regards to what their application is capable of doing.

7. Does Announce Mobile have plans to join MC2?

No not currently. Again we consider NeoMedia a strong partner and have the utmost faith in them to address our concerns and points to the MC2 community. However, we are not eliminating the possibility of joining at a later date and the entire MC2 initiative will continue to remain high on our radar.

8. When is the market for 2D barcodes going to explode in the US?

This is a tough question to answer. There are a lot of factors that go into answering this question, some of which I can and some of which I can’t discuss here. However, the once answer that it is certain, is the establishment of a standard for 2D barcodes throughout the market. Similar to how UPC symbols on just about every packaged good you purchase are standard, the market must establish a similar standard for the 2D code.

This is also a catch-22 question. 2D Barcodes are not going to be accepted by brands until a demand is there, however, a demand can not be generated unless the codes are there. So how do we generate this demand, encourage your friends, family, whoever, to download the qode reader today. The more consumers that have it on their phone the easier it is for companies like Announce Mobile and NeoMedia to sell the product.

Source: Announce Mobile Blog

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