Canadian Newspaper Reinvents The CueCat?

from the Do-Not-Want dept

The Canada-based National Post is apparently the first newspaper in North America to try adding 2D barcodes to its printed product. By doing so, its newspaper audience can whip out their mobile phones to see what kind of breaking updates have happened since the dead tree publication was stamped with ink. Readers just have to download an app to their phone (if it's not already a pre-loaded function), find the barcode on the front page of the paper, scan it with their barcode-capable phone, and voila! -- instant happiness. This is the best innovation since the CueCat! (/sarcasm)

Seriously, though, I'm not against experimenting with innovative products, but this combination doesn't make much sense to me. The newspaper audience that is tech-savvy enough to have a barcode-capable phone (and actually use it) does not seem like the appropriate target audience for a system that simply re-directs them to mobile content. Smartphone users are already reading mobile content, so this barcode system unnecessarily complicates what they're already doing. (In fact, it also drives these users away from the printed edition even more so by promoting the fact that more recent news is online.) And the newspaper readers who don't use smartphones are obviously not going to jump at the chance to figure out how to turn barcodes into newspaper articles. Clearly, if any audience is going to start scanning 2D barcodes, there must be a useful reason for doing so. Simply being the first newspaper to use barcode technology is nice, but there needs to be a compelling service behind the technology to succeed. I'm reminded of the colorful saying: "The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese."

Filed Under: cuecat, news, scanner
Companies: national post


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  1. identicon
    streetstylz, 10 Apr 2009 @ 3:50pm

    I have followed the mobile code reading space over the years with great interest and intrigue. In particular, a company by the name of NeoMedia Technologies.

    During Web 1.0, a company by the name of Digital Convergence licensed the patents of NeoMedia Technologies to facilitate the launch of the "CueCat. The :CueCat was a revolutionary product launched back in 2000 that came way before its time. It had tremendous disruptive potential from a technology standpoint, but the drawback with the :CueCat was that it was a "tethered" device -- meaning the user could only scan barcodes while seated in front of their personal computer. The customer had no mobility and could not take the device with them.

    Flash forward to today, mobile barcode reading is an everyday part of the popular culture in Japan and Korea. The technology is just now beginning to emerge in Europe with North America not too far behind.

    NeoMedia Technologies grandfathered this technology back in the mid 90’s and have been doing mobile code scanning and comparison shopping via UPC codes long before any other company in this space.

    NeoMedia on ABC & NBC News circa 2004:
    http://www.qode.com/videos/PaperClickOnAbc7.wmv
    http://www.qode.com/videos/PaperClickOnNbc8. wmv

    NeoMedia has a rich patent portfolio that covers scanning barcodes with a camera enabled mobile device to connect to the Internet, comparison shop, and/or retrieve online content.

    http://www.qode.com/en/patents.jsp

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