I took a short trip to Tokyo in October to visit family and friends. I've lived there for over eight years, so every time I go back I notice what's changed. And since I'm on the geekier side, I notice tech-related changes.
QR Codes to Search Boxes
When I moved to Tokyo in 2003 there was a trend to switch to camera phones. All the major mobile carriers were playing catchup to J-PHONE, which introduced the first camera phone service to the world on Nov, 2000. Shortly after -- camera phones became ubiquitous, people were sending each other photos, and the carriers were happy.
One day somebody had the bright idea of incorporating QR Code scanners into them. (I would put my money on AU, which is the 2nd largest mobile carrier in Japan. Toyota owns a good chunk of them, and a subsidiary of Toyota invented the QR Code). Yay, a new feature for the carriers to sell...
Then all ads, from giant displays at Shibuya crossing to posters in the subways included QR Codes. It seemed like it happened over night. The ugly 2D boxes were everywhere.
The funny thing is -- the entire time I've lived there I have only seen a handful of people use their phone to scan in a code. Never on the train or in the station. Occasionally at the crossing by a tourist.
On this trip I noticed most QR Codes were gone. Now the ads either display the URL of their website or an image of a search box with a keyword. I didn't see Facebook links or Twitter handle names either. I wonder what will be next. A flood of custom Line stickers? Oh no...