We have a huge opportunity right now and with new gTLDs happening, it’s going to be easy to miss this. If we miss this we may allow an important market opportunity to go to another industry and quite frankly, less effective technologies.
The use of QR codes and bar codes in marketing and in industry is growing. They are used in magazines, on mail and packaging, on posters, on TV, and even in webpages and email. In every case, a domain name or a URL could be a better tool. I wrote a blog post explaining why earlier this year. In most situations where QR codes are used today, a domain name would be better. And with new TLDs, the uses and choices for domain names will expand exponentially. While QR codes can take people to web pages, domains and URLs are human readable.
Domain names are just better. People are frustrated with QR Code readers. The technology doesn’t always work. But in spite of the problems associated with QR code readers, the technology is growing rapidly. QR codes are becoming more popular every year. The United States Postal Service recently offered huge discounts to direct mailers who used QR codes in their mailings. This growth and popularity has been driven by technology and good marketing.
It’s not that QR codes are a great technology. It’s that the industry has created portable readers and reader technologies that have become widely used… and that use is going to become even more wide very soon!
Something is Changing
There’s an ongoing effort beginning right now where QR code (and bar code) readers will be built into the native operating systems of the largest cell phone platforms. This means that the downloading, testing, failing, and repeating that commonly occurs with portable QR code readers today will go away. QR code readers will become successful. They will be everyday, free applications, accessible to all smartphone users. There will be no more downloads and no more frustration on user’s parts.
And here is where the opportunity exists. With the advent of new TLDs, endless possibilities, permutations, and combinations will exist along with the fact that domain names are human readable (unless one wants the URL to be cryptic and that is easy enough to do using numbers in the URL). The problem is that there are no practical portable applications or scanners that can read and act on a domain name or a URL. What’s lacking is a portable domain name or URL reader. At least I haven’t been able to find one (that works)! I did find one from a Japanese company but it just plain doesn’t work. (Update)
In my blog post from earlier this year, I explained why domain names and URLs would be better for applications where QR codes are commonly used today. But we all know that it’s not the best tool or technology that wins. Very often, marketing and industry effort can overcome the best technology. When people search the Internet for the best ideas and products that’s not what they usually find. What they usually find are the “best marketed” or “web optimized” ideas or products. Take a look at the Google Trends report below. Our industry is very excited about new gTLDs, but the world isn’t yet. Interest in QR codes is rising. And even though recent interest in QR codes shows a decline, that will change once a native app is introduced. Today’s problems with QR code readers will get solved.
Domain names can offer a “much better solution”. But we need a URL reader that can recognize domains and URLs and the application should to be native to OS’s. We need to get involved in an industry effort to make a domain name reader or URL reader part of these new native apps.
That’s why 101domain.com is committing to contribute the first $1000 dollars to a “Domain Name Initiative”. I am putting out a call to the industry to create an OCR (optical character recognition) application that recognizes and acts upon domain names and URLs, making them machine readable in the native OS’s of smartphones. I doubt that domains can ever get replaced by QR codes. But I can imagine a scenario where QR codes can eat into the domain name business over not-to-long of a time period.
The technology to recognize, read, and act on domain names is out there, but there isn’t a widely available reader that actually works every time. And there won’t be unless we make it happen. I’m not talking about a cheesy DIY mobile application that someone pieces together on a weekend. We should create a truly workable URL reader that considers all the things that make up a URL and that actually works under most circumstances with OCR that compensates for crooked or curled magazine pages, shaky hands, and more.
We need registry & registrar partners, media partners, domainers, DNS experts, technologists, and a great OCR technology partner and mobile application builder to make this happen. We need domain industry professionals from North and South America, Europe, and Australia, and Asia to be involved. We need anyone who cares for or who has an interest in the future of our industry to get involved. We need a free, ubiquitous, domain name and URL reader to be part of the next generation of smart phones and it needs to be a selfless industry effort.
There are interests who would love to see the domain name go the way of the Dodo bird. We don’t want to sit around and watch that to happen. We have an opportunity to do something about it if we act now.
I’ve been told by experts in the OCR and mobile application business that it would take around $40K to build such an app. Surely, more research needs to be done. We need to gather a solid industry working group and some capital commitments to do it right. If you’d like to be involved or learn more about what we’re doing, please register, contact me at 909-606-9175, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.