Free Code Generators Could Push QR Into the Mainstream

Recently, I wrote about QR (Quick Response) codes coming to TV ad campaigns. Now, Google has gone one step further to make them widely available online and insure ease of access.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, QR codes are all the rage, because they provide an immediate connection to a mobile phone user (if that phone has code-reading software, which is increasingly common).

To increase usage of their local business directory, Google was pushing the use of QR codes by merchants, sending out printed codes that merchants could display in their store windows. Passersby would point their smartphones at the store windows to get additional information about the merchants. Google has also been known to use QR codes to promote easy downloading of Android applications.

Clearly, Google thinks there is a future in QR codes.  Google just opened up its URL shortener, “,” for public use, and it comes with a nifty little feature: automatic QR code generation.

It wasn’t enough for to simply shorten any URL (competing with, Twitter and others). No, Google wanted to again be ahead of the curve by enhancing with QR functionality. All you have to do is add “.qr” to the end of any URL and presto, you create a QR code. That code can be used as an online graphic or printed anywhere. When the code is scanned, it takes the user directly to that URL.

There are other free QR code generators available; among them are tools from Delivr, GoQR, Kaywa, and QR Stuff. But, as with other verticals, Google putting their muscle behind an emerging market is often heralded as a clear sign of the growth potential of that market.

In Asia, QR code usage is widespread, so the codes and code generators are common.

For example, a Thailand company called Advanced Info Service (AIS) recently launched a generator that gives smartphone consumers the ability to create QR codes from business cards, email addresses, messages, SMS, telephone numbers, and website addresses. An executive VP for marketing at AIS says the company’s intent is for the code generator to become “an integrated code production resource” as well as a “new media channel to increase mobile data usage.”

While Google’s latest move into online QR is not unique, the implications of Google doing anything are pretty significant. In this case, the automatic QR code generator serves to both differentiate from other URL shorteners and potentially drive the usage of QR codes into the mainstream, further connecting the online and mobile worlds. If Google believes in QR codes, maybe it’s time for all of us to start paying attention to them.

About Barry Silverstein

Barry Silverstein is a freelance writer/marketing consultant. In addition to writing for ReveNews, he is a contributing writer to, the world’s leading online branding forum. He is the author of three marketing books, The Breakaway Brand (co-author, McGraw-Hill, 2005), Business-to-Business Internet Marketing (Maximum Press, 2003) and Internet Marketing for Technology Companies (Maximum Press, 2003). Barry ran his own Internet and direct marketing agency for twenty years. You can find Barry on Twitter @bdsilv.

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