I was out for the past two weeks so TechCrunch beat me to the punch, but just before I left town we closed an investment in SPARQCode (the company has been operating as MSKYNET but is rebranding to match their flagship product name).
I think of SPARQCode as “Bit.ly for the real world” – a drop-dead easy way to generate 2D barcodes and track conversions. The codes can be used to trigger almost any kind of action on the user’s smartphone: launch a web page, dial a phone number, pull up an address on a map, or invoke any app on the phone. The team has been working on the problem for a while now (I first saw the deal in 2008 and have been following it since then), but the explosion of smartphone usage in the past year or two has made their offering massively relevant to any real-world business that wants to engage customers and track response, either in-store or via any kind of printed collateral (including direct mail, newspaper and magazine advertising).
I love what SPARQCode is up to, and I expect them to play a leading role in driving the 2D barcode phenomenon – already ubiquitous in Asian markets – into the mainstream of the North American marketing toolkit. Our bet on SPARQCode is based in part on my conviction that Google’s Android OS will soon overtake Apple’s iOS as the leading mobile platform among carriers and handset makers worldwide. 2D Barcodes have played a key role in Google’s mobile app distribution strategy, and the company is playing a leading role in training consumers worldwide to use their phone as a barcode scanner.
If your customers use smartphones in your stores or have them on hand as they read your print collateral, take SPQARQCode’s API for a spin and see how easy it is to add a low-friction direct response mechanism to your communications. Tracking conversion is addicting – ask any web marketer – and once you start you won’t want to go back…