Microsoft Introduces Barcode-Reader App for Google Android
Microsoft and Google may be competitors in a number of
areas, notably search and smartphone operating systems, but Microsoft
nonetheless seems determined to port a number of its mobile applications onto
Google Android. The latest in this trend, announced on March 3, is Microsoft
Tag, which uses a smartphone's camera module to "read" a customized tag on a
product or piece of paper and deliver multimedia connected to that tag, be it
video, social networking application or a Website.
Microsoft seems intent on spreading the technology as widely as possible,
even if that means leveraging a rival smartphone OS.
"It's important to give more people access to Tag because there's huge
demand for reliable mobile barcoding-businesses and consumers are eager to find
creative ways to use their phone and hyperlink the real world," Benjamin
Gauthey, a member of the Microsoft Tag team, wrote in a March 3 posting on the official
Microsoft Tag blog. "We want to
make this easier, so over the next few months we're making changes to our
Website-such an including many more ways to learn about and experience Tag and
get inspired by how others are using Tag today-to help better meet the needs of
our Tag community."
Microsoft Tag is already compatible with BlackBerry, iPhone, Symbian and
Windows Mobile phones, making Google Android the next logical step. Presumably,
Microsoft's upcoming Windows Phone 7 Series will also be Tag-capable, although
such announcements will likely have to wait until Microsoft's Mix 10 developer
conference later in March, if not the new mobile operating system's release at
some undefined point later in 2010.
Other IT companies have recognized the potential
benefits of integrating real-world barcodes and tags into their online services. In December, Google
announced a "Favorite Places on Google" initiative that lets business owners
place a barcode, or QR code, on their storefronts. Passerby and customers can
then scan that code with their iPhone, Android device, or BlackBerry in order to
receive information such as menus or a coupon.
"For Android-powered devices, including the Droid by Motorola, we
recommend using the free Barcode Scanner app," Ryan Hayward and David Kim,
product marketing managers for Google, wrote in a December 12 posting on the Official
Google Blog. "For iPhone, we have
found the $1.99 QuickMark app to work best, and starting today, we're partnering
with QuickMark to offer the app for free for the first 40,000 downloads."
Microsoft and Google obviously recognize that making their smartphones more universally useful, in as many contexts as possible, will ultimately translate into market-share and revenue for both of them.