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I know that QR codes are used a lot in some cultures (e.g. China and Japan) but are there any statistics on world wide and/or country specific usage? To be honest, I've never seen anybody use a QR code where I live.

Background: We're thinking about implementing QR codes on a classified website (customers can print their ads in newspapers, on handouts etc. - a widely used feature).

And of course: And are there any good alternatives to make the switch from print to mobile/web easier for the user? (printing URLs or "quick links" doesn't count ;-))

Update: Just found an interesting thread on Quora about QR codes adoption: http://www.quora.com/QR-Codes/Why-havent-QR-codes-become-more-widely-adopted-outside-Japan?q=QR

Update II: LukeW just published some stats on Mobile QR usage

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    I asked a similar question before: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/6770/are-qr-codes-good-ux – jonshariat May 10 '11 at 22:16
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    Thanks for the hint. I've seen the question and I've read the answers - interesting, but no stats or alternatives and I can't afford to put a QR code on every print just because it doesn't do any harm (uses valuable print-space and takes time and money to implement). – Phil May 10 '11 at 22:26
  • In that case I can share the stats I have found. – jonshariat May 10 '11 at 22:47
  • Countries like China have a very high usage rate of QR codes, probably due to the wide adoption of businesses and smart phone usage across all demographics. This doesn't seem to be the case in countries like US or Australia. – Michael Lai Oct 30 '18 at 1:50
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The stats differ a bit but to sum them all up: they all say that about 50% know what it is, 1/3 have used, few use them frequently and most of the people who use them to go to a website.

Also, they all show huge growth. So if its not the right time for your company now, it may be soon. Q4 of last year they grew 13x. So if you guys use them you could be deemed "hip" but if that is not your target market (if your market is 35+) than you may want to wait.

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  • Thanks for the links. Unfortunately there is no word on where the surveys were done (I guess USA). My problem is that the Swiss market is very different from other markets so I can't really rely on international or US studies. Our target market is 18+ (not what you think ;-)). – Phil May 11 '11 at 7:01
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    QR codes <could> however be really useful for older people ( ie by converting the small print on medicine instructions to large print on a dedicated QR reader) – PhillipW May 11 '11 at 9:17
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    @PhilipW: True... It makes me wonder if there isn't anything more elegant. I just don't see older people grab their mobile phone, start and app and take a picture of a QR code to get a more readable version of something - it seems like quite a complicated and abstract process. – Phil May 11 '11 at 10:33
  • Good point Philip. Perhaps for that age range another solution involving QR codes could work. But it still would take user training and perhaps intermediary devices. – jonshariat May 11 '11 at 18:55
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    Does anyone remember reading Joel's piece on the CueCat? [joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000037.html] It's quite old now, but worth another read, even if just for the laugh. – phinetune May 16 '11 at 6:51
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According to Comscore "14 Million Americans Scanned QR Codes on their Mobile Phones in June 2011", representing about 6.2% of the total mobile audience.

http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_Releases/2011/8/14_Million_Americans_Scanned_QR_or_Bar_Codes_on_their_Mobile_Phones_in_June_2011

In comparison 4.6% of mobile users and 9.8% of smartphone owners scanned a QR or bar code during the month of June 2011 in the EU5 region (including France, Germany, Italy, Spain and UK).

(Note: Removed second insecure link. Possibly dead.)

Both reports showed that the majority of people scan QR codes at home.

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  • Why would someone (other than a store clerk at the checkout desk or so) scan a barcode? Are barcodes used for any application that is useful for "personal use" (i.e. not as a part of a computer-aided job)? – O. R. Mapper Mar 5 '18 at 13:05
  • @O.R.Mapper - Some consumer apps involve barcode scans: Untappd searches for beers by scanning the code on a bottle or can, GoodReads (I think) enters books into your list by scanning, Shopping-list apps do the same. – Ken Mohnkern Oct 31 '18 at 15:42
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    @KenMohnkern: Ah, true - and this brings apps where you can measure your consumed calories to mind. I think I didn't think of those because all of these end-user use cases kind of take advantage of the product identification barcodes that are already there for other purposes, as opposed to QR codes, which are often created for the end-user purpose in the first place. – O. R. Mapper Oct 31 '18 at 15:54
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I don't have any recent stats and the links I've seen here are woefully old.

I can't see QR codes as being any use outside of data retrieval for objects. I worked on a project for site managers to manage defects and one thing they needed to do was identify the object that had a defect and instead of manually having to enter attributes for the object in question (name, type, location etc) they could scan a barcode.

For anything else it makes no sense whatsoever.

"We're thinking about implementing QR codes on a classified website (customers can print their ads in newspapers, on handouts etc. - a widely used feature)."

So users are going to reading your website, then a QR code pops up and then they're going to get their phone out ... and then what? For the system to know who they are they would have needed to enter information about their profile etc. It sounds bonkers.

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  • "users are going to reading your website, then a QR code pops up and then they're going to get their phone out ... and then what?" - no, as you cited yourself just one line above: "customers can print their ads in newspapers, on handouts etc." So users read the newspaper, a handout, etc., get their phone out, and scan the barcode, presumably to either open the relevant offer on the classified website, or to get the most important information on the offer (including, but not limited to, the direct URL) as a note right on their phone. – O. R. Mapper Oct 31 '18 at 15:49
  • ah, OK, now I see. OK, the scan acts as a shortcut to a particular page on a website? – colmcq Oct 31 '18 at 17:17
  • Indeed, that's how it typically works. A particular related website or subpage thereof, possibly an URL that directly triggers a certain feature in an app on the user's device (e.g. the Stack Exchange app is usually suggested on my smartphone every time I attempt to open a Stack Exchange website in my mobile browser), a VCARD that can directly be added to the address book to contact the person behind the offer, or simply a text dump with the offer details that you can then save on your smartphone. – O. R. Mapper Oct 31 '18 at 23:04
  • right, and the use case: get phone out, scan etc would be faster than manually typing the address. With all these things its about efficiency (I'm not questioning it, just rationalising) – colmcq Nov 1 '18 at 9:35
  • Exactly. Same as with all the QR codes that directly point to Android/IOS apps that are advertised in public places, they spare you the effort of searching for the app manually in your device's app store. And same as in your original example, where scanning the QR code is more efficient than re-typing a long object identification from a sticker on the object. – O. R. Mapper Nov 1 '18 at 12:29

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