It’s a mystery to me. But for some reason, I felt compelled to write a lengthy comment in response to this ZDNet article which seemed to indicate that mobile tagging was the most important thing Microsoft has ever done.
Here’s what I said:
The sentence “the most important technology Microsoft has developed so far” might better be phrased as “the most important technology that already exists and that Microsoft adapted their own proprietary technology to copy, as well as popularize in the West with their marketing machine.”
I know that’s not as catchy and news-breaking, but let’s go over the facts that put this “next major big thing” into perspective:
1) Mobile tagging codes have existed since 2003 and there are around 70 different standards that exist. Some of the more popular are QR-Code and DataMatrix. More info at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_tagging
2) There are two flavors of mobile codes: direct ones that don’t have to route back through a server to access their information and indirect ones that do have to access a server to give the user the information connected with the mobile tag.
3) Microsoft’s standard is indirect. That means you have to go through the Microsoft server to get the information. It is possible that they are collecting consumer data and location of the person accessing the data. It is also possible that in the near future, to be cost-effective, they will charge people who use the mobile tags to convey information. Microsoft’s disclaimer about the possibility of a fee to create tags in the future that you have to agree to in order to create them makes this a strong possibility.
4) Anyone can create direct mobile tags that give people information (such as some text, a phone number, location information or a URL). These mobile tags are free, don’t go through a server, and convey the information directly to the user. Here’s an example of a site that you can create one with: http://www.widgetbox.com/widget/barcode-and-mobile-tag-generator and an application that can read various formats of mobile tagging code: http://2dsense.com/default.aspx?id=details&sid=overview&tid=0
5) Microsoft’s proclaimed benefit of their proprietary tagging system is that they can fit more information in a smaller amount of space because of the use of color to convey additional information.
If this last item is the sole benefit to make people feel the need to have to access Microsoft servers to give and access information, it seems that we should also try to promote the other types of codes that are direct and forever free if we want a truly revolutionary concept.
Your argument as to the importance of tagging is solid. Microsoft’s role in this possibly world-changing technology is solely based on their ability to get people to drink the kool-aid through marketing and pretending that they invented a wheel that’s been around for a while.
Whoa. Did that all come out of me? I surprise myself sometimes.