Here is the answer: the first mobile phone with qr-code reader was the J-SH09 produced by SHARP for Japan’s J-Phone mobile operator (today’s Softbank) and came on sale in August 2002 – seven years ago.
More details and more than 100 case studies of qr-code applications in our QR-Code report
People who want to participate need to register and link their plastic SUICA card, or their mobile SUICA (wallet phone with installed SUICA application) with a registered mobile or PC email address.
Whenever a registered participants touches the SUICA reader/writer on the side of a poster, links to a campaign homepage, coupons, event announcements or other information is sent to the registered PC or mobile phone email address.
The SuiPo system puts interactivity into posters and allows the advertiser to build an opt-in data base of interested people and to interact with them.
Disneychannel places advertisements with huge QR-code on Tokyo’s roofs. People passing by point their mobile phones at Mickey’s QR-code, and the mobile phone takes them to Disneychannel’s mobile site.
QR codes were developed in the 1990s by Toyota affiliate Denso-Wave to manage car parts – today they are by far the best way to link mobile phones to almost anything. In many applications QR codes are cheaper, easier, more flexible and more secure than RFID and NFC.
QR codes were developed in the 1990s to manage car parts – today they are by far the best way to link mobile phones to almost anything. In many applications QR codes are cheaper, easier, more flexible and more secure than RFID and NFC.
The European Central Bank (based in Frankfurt) manages the EURO, is one of the world’s most important central banks, and uses QR-codes to link traditional PC-webpages to mobile pages.
QR codes for mobile phones started in Japan in August 2002
QR codes have been developed around 1994 by Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave – about 20 years ago- for car parts management at Toyota’s factories, and the first applications of QR codes for mobile phones came to market back in August 2002 – about 11 years ago here in Japan.
Thus there have been over 10 years of development and testing of many different types of applications of QR codes here in Japan, ranging from immigration control and visa, to mobile payments, ticketing and of course marketing and advertising. We have collected about 105 applications of QR codes, mainly in Japan in our QR code report.
Customized QR code: QR code error correction and redundancy can be used to include images and colors
QR-codes turn out to be the killer-app for camera phones – not MMS.
QR-codes have become ubiquitous in Japan since their first introduction to mobile phones in Japan in August 2002, and link mobile phones to life in many ways. QR-codes are usually the quickest, most efficient and cheapest way to link mobile phones to information in daily life, and to provide feedback in both directions, and even for user-to-user interactions.
QR-codes do not have to be in boring black-and-white:
Mobile operators expand into mobile payments and mobile credit
Mobile phones use qr codes for payments
Japan’s mobile operators DoCoMo, KDDI/AU and SoftBank are expanding their business into mobile payment and mobile credit, traditionally the realm of banks, credit card companies, financial institutions and cash. With the bubble/post-bubble bad loans problem largely resolved and the mega-mergers completed, Japan’s banks are now ready again to develop new business.
Customer’s camera phone reads the barcode or QR-code on an utility bill or mailorder invoice, and forwards secure payment instructions to the customer’s bank account.
What is the expected impact?
Expect positive impact on Mizuho’s earnings
Today such payments are typically made by walking to the nearest convenience store: expect negative impact on convenience stores which handle much of the barcode based bill payments today
Expect additional competitors with alternative methods to compete with Mizuho in the domain of mobile phone based bill payments
QR codes (QR = “quick response”) have a lot more capacity than conventional bar codes:
Marketing i-Pod-nano with QR-code: QR-code takes you directly to the mobile Apple store to buy your i-Pod-nano here and now on the road (read a detailed description of the Apple i-Pod QR-code campaign in our QR-Code report):
QR-codes (QR =Quick Response) seem to be everywhere. Amazon.co.jp has an i-Appli, which reads the ISBN from the barcode on the back of a book and takes you directly to the Amazon.co.jp i-mode site to order the book instead of buying it in the bookshop.
People in the mobile industry have QR-codes on their business cards:
Amazon.co.jp introduced a barcode reader i-Appli (JAVA application for DoCoMo’s i-Mode phones), with which shoppers in brick-and-mortar stores can directly compare the prices with Amazon.co.jp’s mobile webstore prices. If the shopper prefers, he/she can order directly by i-Mode mobile phone from Amazon.co.jp online while still standing in front of the shelves of the brick-and-mortar store.
With this barcode reading mobile phone application (i-Appli), Amazon.co.jp is directly taking the competition into brick-and-mortar stores, battling on the same ground.
User interface of Amazon.co.jp’s barcode reading i-Appli – click to scan:
The customer can directly scan the barcode with his/her Docomo i-Mode phone, and the Amazon.co.jp barcode i-Appli:
On the next screen Amazon.co.jp’s i-Appli shows the same product’s page in the Amazon.co.jp mobile store. The customer can directly order with one click if he/she prefers Amazon.co.jp’s offer instead of the brick-and-mortar store, where he/she is currently shopping. This i-Appli allows Amazon.co.jp to catch customers from within traditional stores.
Read our QR-code report for in-depth analysis and lots of applications of QR-codes and bar codes in Japan.
FeliCa mobile payment wallet phones at the centre of attention
by Gerhard Fasol
Wireless, mobile phone industry trends years before they reach outside Japan
Every year the Wireless Japan sets global trends in wireless communications and mobile phones. Mobile phone industry professionals cannot afford to miss this trend setting show. It is here that Japanese carriers and handset makers introduce their latest products and show design studies and concept phones which set industry trends for the next months and years.
There were some surprises: In recent Wireless-Japan shows usually the KDDI/AU-design project prototypes were at the center of attention – this year I could not find any. For example, at Wireless-Japan-2002, KDDI/AU showed “Infobar” prototypes a full 16 months before market introduction. Did KDDI/AU decide to keep future design-project releases secret until they hit the market? Could well be so, given Japan’s increasingly ferocious mobile phone competition. Another surprise was Vodafone’s absence – Vodafone in recent years used to have the biggest show.
On the other hand this time most handset makers showed impressive concept phones, Matsushita/Panasonic under the heading “Beyond 3G”. The image shows NEC’s concept design study of a flexible multimedia phone: this phone has two screens which can be bent together, and used jointly as a larger screen.
Wireless Japan 2004 Highlights: “Beyond 3G”
Beyond 3G: SANYO 3.5G phone for 2.4Mbps data download (for KDDI/AU):
Wireless Japan 2004: NEC “tag” wrapping multimedia design concept phone:
“Wireless Japan 2004” – much was expected: for example, it wasn’t surprising for anyone that DoCoMo’s i-Mode-FeliCa wallet-phones were center stage of the DoCoMo exhibit with lots of partners demoing wallet-phone applications.
Matsushita/Panasonic “Beyond 3G” design concepts:
DoCoMo UbiButton and UbiChip:
DoCoMo i-Mode-FeliCa wallet phones – for electronic cash:
DoCoMo i-Mode-FeliCa wallet phones – as an electronic door key:
We have substantial documentation about the Wireless Japan 2004 exhibition, and most other year’s Wireless Japan exhibitions. If you need information or documentation for prior art or other investigations, please contact us.
Learn more: report on Japan’s telecom sector (269 pages, pdf file):