TagMore monetises mobile 'barcodes'

SEEDCAMP COVERAGE: In Japan and South Korea it is so common now for people to whip out their cell phones and use the camera to connect to online content from a newspaper or magazine that it is no longer commented on. This wave of adoption has yet to go mainstream in Europe or the US, but plenty of companies are trying to get in early before consumers arrive.

The technology – not unlike barcodes – is called “visual tags” and consists usually of black and white ink-blot style images which some reader software on the phone can use to link to a web page or other online service.

Until recently most companies trying to work with this techonology have based their strategy on the phone software. TagMore is, instead, going to attempt to put intelligence into the cloud which connects these mobile services.

In particular it aims to create a platform for the delivery of content and micropayments which publishers, retailers – you name it – can hook into. In fact, visual tags are set to become “the next Bluetooth” because there is no need to create a “handshake” with the phone since the response of the mobile to what its camera is seeing is almost instantaneous.

There already exists an ecosystem for the the creation of visual tags, as there are many open source systems, including Semacode, QR (Quick response), Qode, Spotcode, Shotcode and ColorCode. TagMore will allow any of these systems to be used, thus riding the wave of visual tagging (if TagMore succeeds, of course). Client reader software for the mobile includes Kaywa, QuickMark, among others.

What are the applications? Visual tags can be applied to absolutely anything, just like barcodes, so a visual tag on the back of a business card can prompt the mobile to put those contact details into the phone. You can put them on stickers. You name it. Anyone can generates these visual codes, but the question is, can you hook into a platform that monetises that transaction somehow?

TagMore could well be one of these firms that benefits from the MC2 (Mobile Codes Consortium) which involves Nokia, HP, Deustche Telekon, and advertising agencies like Publicis. This consortium is basically out to pre-install visual tag readers inside all mobiles globally from 2008, largely to create marketing opportunities.

Does TagMore have competitors? Perhaps not, so far at least. Abaxia in France has designed its software to create a subscription market for mobile tagging but this is a different business model.

Tagmore aims also to be able to allow people to order print products (perhaps they should partner with Moo?). The music download market is an opportunity here to get streaming previews of songs. Who needs an iPhone touch, huh?