Microsoft Tag a not so new tool for marketing

Last week Microsoft launched a new service/tool/technology called Microsoft Tag. In simple terms it allows you to take a photo of an image with your internet-enabled phone and the related content is displayed on your phone. Very similar technology to the QR Code. But implemented very differently.

The QR Code stores all of the data in the image, for example the QR Code below actually stores the data of the URL for Inspecht. So when you take a photo of the image using your phone, the data is processed on the phone and then you are redirected to the Inspecht web site.

QR Code Inspecht

Microsoft’s tag service does not store the data in the image. Instead after taking a photo of the image the Microsoft Tag application on your phone communicates, via the Internet, with the Microsoft servers to figure out what to do next. The image is based on technology our of Microsoft Research called High Capcity Colour Barcode or HCCB for short. Microsoft has released reader applications for many different phones, head to http://gettag.mobi to find out more.

Microsoft Tag Inspecht

Both provide very similar functionality.

Pros

  • Microsoft Tag allows you to create much smaller images than QR Codes
  • Microsoft Tag has significant in built error correction for partial or blurry images
  • Microsoft Tag is reportable a better user experience, personally I am not sure about that as I have found QR Codes very easy to use
  • Microsoft Tag makes it easy to get a reader application on your phone, I had to search to find a QR Code reader for my Treo
  • Microsoft Tags can be set to expire after a certain period, great for marketing
  • Based on my limited testing it seems you can change the data (URL, vCard etc) that the tag points to without needing to change the tag image
  • Microsoft Tag is support by the Microsoft marketing machine

Cons

  • Microsoft Tag requires full colour over QR Codes minimum requirement of black and white.
  • Microsoft Tag requires an Internet connection to work
  • Microsoft Tag requires Microsoft to store all of the data about the code and resulting data
  • Microsoft Tag is proprietary and after the beta period you will likely charged for using the service
  • QR Codes are very popular in Asia and have growing support in other locations, such as Australia

From a mobile recruiting point of view there is not a lot of difference. However the dynamic time driven content of the tag service makes the Microsoft offering a better choice for job ads or career fairs. For example here is a tag to a Seek job ad that will expire on 11th Feb 2009.

Seek Ad Tag

In Australia Telstra has been pushing QR Codes, under their own brand Telstra Mobile Codes marketed to only work on the Telstra Next G phone, which of course is not true as they are standard QR Codes. It will be interesting to see if Telstra drop the QR Code for Microsoft Tag.

Update: Anothy from Aussie startup QMCodes mentioned in the comments that the pro’s are all covered by their existing service Q-Lytics http://m.qmcodes.com/qlytics good to see a local company ahead of the big players.