Apparently ScanLife is one of these applications that let you scan a code with your mobile phone camera to be sent to a mobile website, or to download content. They are doing a promotion with Billboard magazine this week. Steve Smith makes some good points in the article, and it’s worth a read.
A feature and promotional section in Billboard this week shows off the scannable 2D code attached to Universal Music artists’ material and Billboard content. Text “scan��? to 70734 to get the necessary downloadable ScanLife app, which ties into your phone’s camera. Aim the cam at the 2D code on the Billboard page and hit Scan. The app processes the image and opens the Web browser to a page. It can pull down a wallpaper, a WAP page likeBillboard’s top ten lists, links to music or videos or other applications.
I personally just don’t get it. Let’s compare it to good old SMS and see how it stacks up.
For starters, you get the application on your phone by sending an SMS to their short code (oh the irony…).
If you are not a Sprint subscriber, you will get a text message back telling you that it is not supported on your carrier. This one I don’t get at all. Why would it be carrier specific? I assume it is a Java app running on a phone that does an HTTP call to the ScanLife server. Their website does say coming soon to AT&T and Alltel.
Now even if you are a Sprint subscriber, it only works on some phones. Here’s the list.
So let’s jump ahead 2 years into the future and assume that it will run on all carriers and all phones. I would download the application to my phone, and then I can scan the code in the magazine. But wait, when I see the code in the magazine, how do I know how to scan it? How do I know I need to download this application and install it, just to take a picture of the code to be sent some content? Are they assuming that every single person in the world will know about their company, and have the application installed?
I have’nt seen the ad, but itf it tells you to send a text to a short code to get the application, I’ll laugh out loud! (see the irony again?).
So once it’s downloaded and installed, I can now go through my magazine and take pictures of the codes and be sent content. I won’t be able to use my regular camera application, so I will need to run the ScanLife app, and take that picture, and be sent to the browser to get the content.
Sounds like a lot of steps to me. Am I missing something? In order for this to be useful, it needs to have the following:
- Simple to use
- No downloadable app needed
- Work on every single mobile phone
- Work across all carriers
- Allow for reports and statistics
- Be easy to setup for advertisers
I think I know of one application that does this. SMS!
Send a keyword to a short code, and end up in the same place you would by going through all these steps. No need for advertisers to create and print scannable codes. No need to have a camera phone that integrates into a Java program and web browser.
My first impression is that ScanLife it is sexier but a tad more efficient than entering a short code. Because it is an application, you have to navigate and load the app to take the image, which in total keystrokes and focusing time is more of a chore than just sending a text cue to a shortcode. Yes, it eliminates the step of receiving a message back, and it certainly seems cooler than using SMS. Still, the application only underscores the importance of having a solution like this fully interoperable across carriers and baked into the phone cam. Ideally, you want to be able to turn your phone cam on, snap the 2D code and have the phone recognize you are shooting a code that needs to be processed.
There are other technical issues. Ever try to focus a phone cam on a printed page and get the 2D code large enough to register properly? There were a lot of false starts and unintelligible snaps in my quick test of the technology.
If you want to make the real world interactive, just throw a keyword and short code on it and be done with it. Total setup time: 3 minutes…