Scanbuy To Take Over Tag From Microsoft
August 20, 2013

Scanbuy To Take Over Tag From Microsoft

Peter Suciu for – Your Universe Online

On Monday Microsoft announced that it will shut down its Tag service and that Scanbuy has been chosen as the licensee of the software giant’s mobile barcode technology. Microsoft’s tag isn’t out just yet.

The Redmond-based company announced that it will shut down the Microsoft Tag Service in two years on August 19, 2015. Current Microsoft Tag customers will see the site continue as it has been, and this means that the tags will continue to work, new codes can be generated and scan reports will be available through the service until that time.

Scanbuy plans to support the technology on its ScanLife platform by the middle of September, and announced on its website this should be in place no later than September 18, 2013.

“With the most popular mobile engagement platform in the industry, Scanbuy is a great choice for Microsoft Tag customers to continue to grow their mobile engagement programs,” said Eric Engstrom, General Manager, Microsoft via a statement. “Scanbuy is highly focused in this area with an impressive track record and stellar technology which made them a natural partner for licensing the Microsoft Tag technology.”

Tag is the proprietary implementation of a set of visual images known as QR (quick response) codes, and appears as little black-and-white dotted squares. These are currently seen in windows of storefronts and on billboards, and each distinct pattern is attached to a unique web landing page that is used to give potential customers pricing and marketing information, and even be used to allow users to sign up for services.

Tag was able to take this further by offering customizable images. The Microsoft Tag was introduced in 2009 and has been used by top brands in publishing, retail and entertainment to connect consumers to mobile content including videos, music, ring tones, free text and product information.

The Microsoft Tag app has reportedly been downloaded by millions of smartphone users with billions of tags and QR codes published to date. As Microsoft looks to exit this market, Scanbuy sees the potential.

“We are humbled and honored to be entrusted by Microsoft to carry forward the Microsoft Tag technology for the leading brands that use Microsoft Tag as well as the millions of the app’s users, allowing them to build upon the tremendous success of the platform,” said Mike Wehrs, CEO and president of Scanbuy in a statement. “Microsoft’s decision to allow Scanbuy to incorporate the Microsoft Tag technology into the ScanLife service is a testament to the power of our technology, service offering, patent portfolio and the Scanbuy team.”

If these have had such an impact, the question is why is Microsoft looking to exit? ReadWrite noted that the technology does have a few problems.

“Problem number one: QR codes are often an afterthought,” Brian Proffitt noted on ReadWrite on Monday. “Because they are so easy to create and linked to existing web sites, that's often what advertising and marketing people just do, linking them willy-nilly to pages that may or may not have been optimized for the mobile devices that are surely being used to view the page.”

“Problem number two: No native app support,” Proffitt added. “If the built-in Camera app for Android and iOS phones supported QR-code recognition better, then the actual process of scanning a code might be worth the effort. As it is now, users have to download a separate app, then open that to scan the code image.”

Thus, instead of being a growing market, QR codes have growth that is either flat or non-existent. However, clearly Scanbuy sees some potential.

“The fact is that there are a significant number of people who use Tag,” Wehrs told CITE World. “It hasn’t been what I’d call dying.”