QR Codes Aren’t

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Recently, Comcast sent a letter promoting their Xfinity.tv site, which enables subscribers to watch TV shows from their computers. Showing off just how high-tech they’ve become, part of their letter also included a QR code. If you’re not familiar, QR codes are bar codes which can be scanned by mobile phones (and other devices). The scanner will then decode the code and show relevant information. This is Comcast’s QR code:

QR Code
“It’ll be simple!”, the letter lied.

This QR code promised to show a demo of the Xfinity service. Having never used a QR code before, I decided to give it a shot. In my experience, these are the steps needed to use the QR code:

Step 1: Download a free QR reader (iTunes Link: QRReader) to your iPhone.

Step 2: Snap a picture of the QR code.

Step 3: Wait…wait…wait.

Step 4: Thinking it’s stalled somehow, quit the app. See a flash of a result, just as you quit.

Step 5: Utter a mild epithet, then launch and try again.

Step 6: Wait…wait…wait.

Step 7: Finally get a result. An untappable, uncopyable result.

QRReader screen
This is not terribly useful.

Step 8: Click the Details button and get a new screen. Become filled with false hope at the site of the Launch button. Tap it.

QRReader screen
Why would I “Share” this?

Step 9: Get sent back to the original screen.

Step 10: Contemplate just typing in this pathetic URL.

Step 11: Realize that avoiding doing so is the sole point of this QR code.

Step 12: Mutter “Useless!” loudly, and delete “QRReader” from your phone and your life.

Step 13: Download a second, less crappy QR reader (iTunes Link: Scan).

Step 14: Scan and get a relatively fast result.

Step 15: Watch 23 seconds of the resulting movie before realizing you don’t actually care anyway.

Granted, twelve of those steps could have been skipped with better luck, and things would be faster the second time around. Still, QR codes are a whole lot of work just to get a simple web address, especially if you know YouTube offers shortened URLs. This particular movie, for instance, can be reached at http://youtu.be/sshEnDe8tCo. Sure, if you’re a monkey pecking at a keyboard, it would likely take decades to get there. For the rest of us, however, it’s a much faster way to get to those important promotional videos.

Perhaps the best part of this whole fiasco? The “QR” in “QR code” stands for “Quick Response”.


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