As we usher in the new year, Google is ushering in a new way for people to use mobile technology to search for businesses. Following on Google’s launch of Place Pages, Google is pushing the 2D Mobile Barcode format as a camera-friendly way to discover and save money at businesses in your area. The search giant has shipped out 100,000 Mobile Barcodes to local businesses in 9,000 US towns scattered throughout the 50 states. The idea is to display the Mobile Barcodes, also known as “QR codes,” in as many shop windows as possible. Passersby might see an interesting business, snap a picture of the barcode with their cameraphone’s barcode-scanning app, and instantly find ratings, info and coupons from the store.
Until recently, the only way to search for information on a particular local business would be to type a search query into your mobile phone’s web browser (pointing at Google.com, of course). The Google Mobile iPhone app and newer Android phones can now search Google using your voice, but that’s only the beginning. Google’s vision of the not-too-far-in-the-future downtown community has every shop on Main Street proudly displaying their Mobile Barcodes. The barcodes could be used to offer coupons or other discounts in a store, and might even link the user to an interactive webpage.
For now, Google suggests using the Barcode Scanner app for Android and the QuickMark app for iPhone [iTunes link]. Both apps are free on their respective app stores, but QuickMark usually costs $1.99, so iPhone users would do well to hit the AppStore and download the app before the promotion ends.
Business owners, your first step to getting a Mobile Barcode decal from Google is to claim your business listing here.
Curious cats can browser Google’s gallery of “Favorite Places” QR codes here.