Mobile Start-Up Scanbuy at Digitivity


New York-based Scanbuy makes software that enables mobile phone cameras to read bar-codes, which permits dozens of real-world / internet / geospatial applications (in countries whose cell-infrastructure and wireless culture is more advanced than here). CEO Jonathan Bulkeley spoke at Digitivity yesterday.  Rachel Clarke from Behind the Buzz reports on his comments (Excerpts below: For Rachel’s complete write-up, please visit Behind the Buzz):

  • Mobile is the web access device of future. In most of developed world, it already is. In Japan, 90% access web on mobile. Phillippines, no computers, all phones. India is the same.
  • In Japan and other places, use the camera on phone as a navigation device.  See something, point phone at it and get the web.
  • Bar codes can be anywhere – posters, packages, information, products marketing.
  • In Japan, 65% of phones have the software.  In US 70% have cameras (but no software)…
  • In France, one article with bar code sent 30% of traffic to a wap site via the code.  This is moving globally.  Every handset will have the software.
  • In japan, 84% of usage was in magazines.  Read an ad…want to know where the product is selling..scan code, combine with GPS, can send you to places.
  • 47 different functions that the software can perform on the phone. Enter contact details, go to site, send an SMS, launch menus..can do about anything the phone can do.
  • Advertisers can get detailed info: who is scanning (gender, age, income, zipcode), where, what they scanned, when they scanned
  • In US, we are launching pilot in Jan 1 2008, with 5 biggest carriers.

Q: In more advanced countries, are you using ecommerce?  Can you purchase? 

A: Not yet.  but retailers are excited.  they can put barcodes on the product..get product reviews in store.  scan and pay and get it sent.  The store can act as ecommerce.  It will happen in next 3-5 years.

Q: can the tech be tuned to recognise logos and other images? 

A: the cameras are not great and won’t be for a while.  Image recognition is there, but not yet with camera.  We are doing client side decoding, you can do image recognition server side – but complex.  Who decides what an image links to?   

Q: who is the competition and how to you differentiate?

A: there are a bunch of small tech companies worldwide.  We have handset and servers and the background in media..we focus on that.