According to eMarketer, over 90 percent of Americans haven’t used a QR code in the past year. Despite the low adoption rates, Utah-based Scan today launched version 2.0 of its app, and announced it now has over 25 million downloads, up from 10 million in February. The company is getting almost 85,000 daily downloads and the new version looks to provide a more seamless scanning experience to revitalize QR code usage and prepare for new technologies that bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds.
The company received $1.7M in funding in February 2012 from Google Ventures, Menlo Ventures and others to build out what is now a QR code marketing platform, with both its app and its web-based service that allow businesses and individuals to create their own QR codes and mobile-friendly landing pages.
Founder and CEO Garrett Gee spoke with BetaKit about how his app managed to gain traction despite the numerous scanning apps available on the App Store, and the slow adoption of QR codes. “When we started working on it there were tons of apps in the space, specifically QR code and bar code scanning apps, probably over 100 of them. There just wasn’t anything of the quality, or even design and style that we were looking for,” said Gee in an interview. “We had a very clear picture in our minds of what a scanner should look like, how powerful it should be, almost as if Apple were to preinstall a scanner, what would that look like, because that didn’t exist, we decided to build it.”
The company sought to distinguish its app by making it easier for users to scan QR codes, letting them hover over the code to scan as opposed to taking a picture or even clicking a button. The company wanted to remove as much of the friction as possible in the experience, and with the new version if users struggle for more than five seconds while trying to scan, it prompts them to check out a tutorial, if longer than 10 seconds, the tutorial automatically open up hoping to get them in and out of the whole process as quickly as possible.
In terms of how the company makes money (its apps are free), it’s currently providing a tracking and analytics dashboard to brands like American Express and GQ magazine in beta, with a public launch date planned for 2013.
Having built both sides of the equation, with a scanning app and a way to optimize the content users see when they scan a QR code, the company believes its ecosystem will help to set it apart as campaigns increasingly become more digital and focused on consumer engagement. Already, companies like Kooaba are looking to help brands and advertisers transition to image recognition technology, and companies like i-nigma also provide a full-suite of QR code solutions, while others like Qriket provide monetary incentives to consumers to get them to scan codes.
However, Gee pointed out that one of the reasons they named the company just ‘Scan’ was that they knew that QR codes would become just one piece of the puzzle, and he said the company is already working on technology to tackle both NFC and image recognition. While its user base shows there’s still a demand for scanning apps, branching out to include image recognition and other tech will likely be necessary to stay relevant as QR codes become only one of several ways to add interactive digital content to print marketing materials.