Five Common Myths About QR Codes

It’s been a while since I’ve read (or written) a blog post about QR codes, and I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, I got distracted playing video games with services from Just like we don’t see blog posts about today’s iPods the way we did the original iPod soon after its release, I think we’ve reached a point where QR codes are kind of a given. They’re here, we’re using them and until a worthy alternative emerges, they’re not going anywhere. Even Apple knows that QR codes are the way to go, opting for a barcode-based system with their new Passbook mobile payment system instead of the NFC we’re seeing Android devices very slowly adopt.


But, there are always going to be some things that have to be fought through.


Here are five common myths about QR codes.


QR Codes Can Only Contain Web Addresses

While most of the QR codes we see in the wild do only contain web addresses, it is possible to embed just about anything into a QR code. In addition to web addresses like, it is also possible to embed email links like mailto:[email protected] and telephone links like tel:1-900-mix-alot. Using these alternative links, QR codes can provide not only additional interactivity to users, but real world utility and usefulness.


QR Codes Are Less Useful Than NFC

It’s safe to say that NFC (Near-Field Communications, a short-range wireless technology) is cooler than QR codes, it is also safe to say that riding a dragon everywhere is cooler than driving a car. But, one is practical and one isn’t. While NFC does appear to be the better solution, you have to look at what really matters: real world utility.As an example, let’s examine Apple’s Passbook. Passbook is Apple’s new mobile payment system that comes baked into iOS 6. By using barcodes, which can be leveraged on any device with a camera, instead of NFC, which could have only been used on the newest generation of iPhone, Apple was able to drive adoption at literally quadruple the rate. NFC might be cool, but until it becomes as standard as a camera, barcodes will always have the upper hand.


QR Codes Have No Useful Analytics

Out of the box, QR codes have no analytic system. But, using systems like Ventipix, it is possible to not only get scan-related statistics like number of scans with times and dates, but it is also possible to get even more granular data like location of scan and device type. Using this information, it becomes possible to tailor custom experiences into QR codes for different sorts of users.An example would be using a single QR code for the iOS and Android versions of an application by detecting the device type and redirecting to either Google Play or the App Store.


QR Codes Have Limited Capabilities

QR codes are only as limited as the internet itself is. Because links can be embedded into QR codes that go to literally anywhere on the internet, the real question isn’t what the QR code itself is capable of. The real meat and potatoes of QR codes lie in the functionality of the page where it sends the person scanning it. Leveraging the new API’s in HTML 5, it is possible to do a great more on the mobile web than we could in years past. Checking in on Facebook and Twitter, interactive polls and app-like user experiences are becoming more and more common place every day.


QR Code Destinations Can’t be Changed Later

Like the analytics example we saw earlier, functionality does exist that doesn’t come out of the box with QR codes. Using URL shorteners and similar redirects, it is possible to change where a QR code leads someone without going back and reprinting it. The reason this is possible is because when you use a URL shortener or a redirect, the QR code doesn’t actually point at the final page.For example, I could generate a QR code and point it at a URL of my choosing. Let’s call it I generate the QR code, print it, and get it painted on my car. If I ever want to change where the QR code goes, I can just use Javascript or PHP and send traffic to that page to another page without having to get a new QR code painted on my car.


QR codes will always be treated like anything else, with naysayers going on and on about how they aren’t being used anymore (SMS, anyone?). But, just because people aren’t raving about a technology doesn’t mean that they’re not using it. To me, it often means the opposite. It is a clear sign that a technology has matured when its praises no longer require singing.


What are some misconceptions you’ve been hearing about QR codes?