Joel is old

I almost feel bad about this, but it seems like this sacred cow is more like Shambo.

sometimes the elders are right, and the youngsters really are too young to know the history of the idea they think that they’ve just invented.

Unfortunately for Joel, QR codes have been around for over a decade and work very, very well (they’re most well-known in Japan where they appear on virtually every item you can buy, but when British tabloid newspapers like The Sun are starting to run them, you know they’re making inroads in the UK too).The QR code for this blog

Given that he’s talking about mobile phones, and that he says typing URLs is not hard, I can only imagine that he’s never actually done it. Typing URLs on a mobile phone keyboard is an awful, awful experience. If it’s anything other than a simple you may as well not even bother, because you’ll probably make a typo anyway. Why do you think there are so many “text us this word on this number and we’ll send you the URL” services?

Unluckily for the consumers who are expected to install new software on their phones line, he also doesn’t seem to realise that some phones do now come with QR code readers built in. Oh dear.

From my point of view, where I’ve been watching QR codes for about seven years, they’ve always seemed like a good idea, but the mobile technology in the West has just been too poor to be able to use them. Now that every man and his dog has a phone which incorporates a 2MP camera and a fully-featured web browser (none of this WAP rubbish) it’s easy to see them becoming more and more popular.

This blogger thinks that Joel should stick to commenting on software, and leave the mobile tech world well alone.

You can generate your own QR codes on

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10 thoughts on “Joel is old”

  1. I’ve seen these in various advertisements for years in Australia. Mainly to download ringtones and other such things. I’ve only used it myself once, so I just assumed Nokia had the required software pre-installed on their phones.

    From my experience, they weren’t particularly useful but that may be because phone bandwidth at the time was terrible. I also don’t think that the US mobile market, both in terms of user expectations and handset capabilities, if a very fair reflection of the global market. Maybe it’s changed recently though

  2. Why should he stick to commenting on software? He’s just as reliably wrong about that as he is about this.

  3. While I agree that typing URLs could be far more pleasant, I don’t think this is the answer. Have you tried using a typical bit of software for this?

    I’m pretty proficient technically, with a great phone that supports this stuff out of the box (a Nokia N95), and it just would not work. I spent several minutes trying to grab one of these (and ultimately failing), when it would have taken 30 seconds to type in a URL. Perhaps I was doing something wrong, but I really don’t care: it’s not intuitive enough or as fast as typing, even on a handset.

  4. I also have an N95. I’ve scanned a dozen or so QR codes in the past few months and it’s never taken more than 5 seconds.

    Two things to bear in mind:

    1) not all codes that look like this are QR codes. There are multiple standards, although QR codes are the most common

    2) Make sure it is set to “close up mode”.

    Try scanning the QR code on this page. For me it works if I pretty much just swipe the screen.

  5. Phone is charging just now so I’ll try later, but it seems to be that having multiple competing standards that, to the user, are indistinguishable on inspection is another nail in the coffin. Why should we waste people’s time with codes that they may or may not be able to use when some text would suffice?

  6. Well, the only non-QR codes I’ve seen in the flesh have been on items sent through the post where they use a QR-like square of blots. It’s just worth knowing in case that really was your problem.

    To make that very clear: all the other codes I’ve seen (over a number of years) have been immediately usable and delivered content in seconds that would have taken minutes to type in (QR codes can be grouped in grids to provide greater amounts of information).

  7. What QR readers are people using; I’ve been using Kaywa reader at the moment and it scans the code on the page ok.

    BTW – the URL thing is real pain, as a mobile developer it’s really annoying having to type in those URLs to download things.

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