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Which failed product of the nineties anticipated QR code-based advertising?



  CueCat Scanner rests on a keyboard
Denise Chan / Flickr

Answer: CueCat

Nowadays, it's common to see QR codes everywhere – from magazine ads to grooming tags on potted plants. Hundreds of millions of people have smartphones that allow them to quickly and easily scan the codes and access information online. Even the app you use to scan has evolved from a special add-on to a component of standard camera apps within a few years.

In the late 1

990s, however, came the idea to scan a product or an advertisement to obtain more information about was a stranger and mobile phones were not advanced enough to get the job done. In this environment, the unfortunate CueCat of the Digital Convergence Corporation fought to survive.

The CueCat was a physical peripheral device that you could connect to your computer, much like a computer mouse. The sleek and indefinable cat-shaped device was just a cheap barcode scanner that ran on proprietary software and allowed you to scan product barcodes and barcodes in printed advertisements for more information from the company in question – similar to using it now QR and barcodes with our smartphones.

However, in 2000, consumers simply did not recognize the utility of the device. Nobody wanted to drag things to their computer to scan them; The entire system lacked the ease and spontaneity that future consumers would enjoy with simple barcode scanners. In addition, there were grave privacy concerns because you had to sign up for a CueCat account and every physical CueCat was serialized and linked to your account. As if that were not enough, a breach of company data in the second half of 2000 revealed customer data.

Between the impracticality of using the device, privacy concerns (including data breaches), and especially the company's aggressive attitude towards people crafting or modifying CueCat hardware and software was the product Sure to fail. When the CueCat was finally defeated, it took an investment capital of $ 185 million.


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