Friday, February 11, 2011

QR Codes Added to USA Today

If you are on of the 33% of smartphone users, your mobile experience is not complete unless you are accustomed to using QR codes, those graphical boxes on print materials, that link to online content on your phone. And USA Today is introducing these QR codes, more specifically, the Microsoft Tag, to their daily addition. "Microsoft is enthused about the partnership, as it brings big potential market share to their Tag system. 'We’re excited that USA TODAY is using Tag to engage with readers in a more interactive way. Microsoft Tag makes the world around you clickable, and now with the scan of Tag, customers will get a richer, more enhanced experience from the pages of the newspaper,' said the director of Tag, Bill McQuain."

Smartphone penetration continues to rise. The launch of the Verizon iPhone will only push penetration further. The smartphone has become the must have device, connected to most of us 24/7. It connects us with voice, test, GPS, email, and more. It can be our still camera, our video camera, our radio, and even as a wallet. The Microsoft Tag or QR code enables us to enjoy a more interactive experience with the information and content we encounter. Adding it to newspapers like USA Today seems like a no brainer, yet it is only just now being added. Tags don't have to be just for advertising; they add more value to editorial as well and hopefully that connection will only serve to make USA Today a more desired newspaper.

Is Cable Against the Google TV Revolution?

Sometimes I come across articles like this one that really captures my attention. I have not bee a fan of the CableCard and believe that cable has worked hard to make it a difficult solution for consumers to access content outside the set top box. Google has a device that would seem to truly create a convergence of cable and internet programming, desired by the consumer, that is also easily managed by the consumer. But it needs the push by the FCC to make Google TV work most efficiently. "That's at the heart of the FCC's proposal for an AllVid system, which Google very loudly supports. AllVid doesn't exist yet, but the idea is to mandate an industry-wide gadget that you could plug into your broadband router and connect to your cable TV provider, then watch online video and pay channels through a variety of AllVid-friendly devices. Not surprisingly, Google and Sony love this idea, because it could transform the Google TV from just a neat product into a revolution."

Is cable truly fighting this or is this also an opportunity to partner in a way that still protects the cable operator. I believe a win-win solution can exist. A partnership of internet and cable would improve functionality, interactivity, sharing, and viewing. The CableCard is a failed experiment; it is time to try something else.