Will Your Nonprofit Pick QR Codes or NFC?

I'm dying to know, which one will you choose, QR codes or NFC?

QR codes have their advantages.

  • QR codes are offline hyperlinks that connect the offline world to online content.
  • The technology is being used by 14 million people.
  • QR codes can be put on anything and only need to be one square inch to be effective.
  • You can customize QR codes. You can make them pretty, add your logo and use every color in the rainbow.
  • You can store a lot of data on a QR code. You name it and you can encode it on a QR code.
  • You can easily track QR code scans, location and mobile device used so you analyze results and adjust your marketing campaign accordingly.

Yeah, I'm a fan of QR codes, especially since I'm writing QR Codes for Dummies.

But you might be favoring NFC or Near Field Communication.

  • NFC is a short-range broadcast technology that allows smartphones to interact with other devices when held close together. Think "Bump" - but with a lot more potential.
  • If you're following the money trail, it would lead you straight to NFC. Google, Apple, Verizon, MasterCard, AT&T, and many other major players are investing heavily in NFC.
  • NFC is standard on many phones and major players such as Apple are poised to add it to their devices.
  • NFC is super-easy to use. Just put your smartphone near a NFC chip and you’re done. No scanning, no reader, no holding up your phone. You don’t even need to physically “bump” the devices.

So which one will you choose?

I know what you're saying: "What the heck are you talking about?"

There's a good chance you've heard of QR codes, but you probably think NFC means National Football Conference.  QR codes are popping up everywhere. But odds are you haven't scanned one yet. Don't worry, you'll have plenty time to try QR codes and NFC once they're more mainstream. You probably won't have to choose between the two either. They'll coexist for a while until one dominates, or both are replaced by something else.

Here's the news you need to process and act on now: the mobile screen will be the most dominant screen in history. Bigger than television and the desktop, combined. That's why they call mobile The Third Screen.

Just about everyone will own a smartphone. Mobile phone sales are expected to hit a billion units in 2015. That means one out of every seven people on the planet will own a smartphone. Just last year Android sold 250 million phones, or 8 phones a second!

Wi-Fi is coming to your area soon. The Wireless Broadband Alliance reported in 2011 that global public Wi-Fi hotspot numbers are set to grow from 1.3 million in 2011, to 5.8 million by 2015, a 350% increase. The Alliance also found that smartphones are poised to surpass laptops as the device most frequently connected to Wi-Fi.

Consumers are addicted to their smartphones. I know how I am when I forget mine at home. I feel tense and disconnected. You may too. Smartphone users reportedly spend nearly 90 minutes a day on just apps and 75 minutes surfing the web. That’s nearly three hours a day...on a phone. But consider this: the average adult spends over seven hours a day consuming media. Mobile use could double in the years ahead. It’s no surprise that when asked to choose between only their smartphone or desktop for six months, 55% of respondents under 30 chose their phones.

Consumers are warming up to mobile purchases and, soon, mobile donations. One in two mobile users use their mobile device in stores to make purchasing decisions. They’re also buying things on their phones, totaling $9 billion in purchases in 2011.

Mobile devices will be the remote control of people’s lives. A recent Nielson study showed that people use smartphones for everything: music, news, dining, games, weather, directions, banking. Heck, 40 percent of people use their mobile device while watching television. And the television industry is taking note with innovations that connect viewers to their favorite shows and will one day allow them to make purchases by just pointing their phones at their televisions and hitting a button. People want that mobile connection between the offline and online worlds.

Mobile devices are everywhere. Connectivity to the Internet is growing worldwide. Mobile devices rank pretty close to food, water and shelter as a thing people think they need to live. Good or bad, people want a remote control for their lives.

The future of QR codes and NFC may seem like the maze people often mistake QR codes for. It’s a maze that may lead to something better, or to something else. Or it may just lead to a dead end.

But the path of mobile is straight and clear. People may not be scanning QR codes forever, or passing their smartphones near an NFC chip, but demand for online content to enhance and support offline activities is strong. That's what your nonprofit needs to begin addressing. In this, you have no choice.