From International Herald Tribune Mobile marketing in an ink blot
QR, or quick response, codes are a similar to bar codes except they are square, look a bit like an ink blot and contain much more information. In Japan and South Korea, QR codes are used to link directly to a Web site, as in the case of the subway poster, saving the user the need to type an address on the tiny keypad of the phone. As marketers seek an edge on competitors, QR codes are appearing practically everywhere in Japan.
Denso Wave, a Japanese electronics company, created QR codes in 1994 to track car parts, employing hand-held devices that are still in use.
Although it patented the process, the company allowed anybody to create QR codes without having to pay a licensing fee. That helped the technology take off.
But that by itself would not have been enough to guarantee the code's ubiquity, said Daniel Scuka, the editor of Wireless Watch Japan, an online publication.
"QR codes have been a great success in Japan because phone carriers confronted this in a systemic way, with all of them using the same technology," he said - a potential lesson for carriers in Europe and the United States.
I think that is the most important line in this story. A universal reader and 2d code will be the catalyst.
While QR codes have had success in Japan and South Korea, they have not made the leap to the rest of Asia, Europe and North America.
MobileTag, developed by the French company Abaxia, and ShotCode , created by a Swedish-Dutch start-up called OP3, are similar to QR codes and could be the early favorites to grab market share outside Asia, should the technology catch on.