Mobile Bar Code Scanning Heats Up: RedLaser Reaches 50 Million Scans

Related to our ongoing blog coverage of mobile bar code scanning (and BIA/Kelsey report released last week), Occipital announced its RedLaser app has reached 50 million scans. Other milestones include 2 million downloads and 950,000 active users.

RedLaser is one of the leaders in the quickly developing space. Google meanwhile generates awareness for the space through its parallel efforts with Goggles. Though a broader “visual search” play, Goggles has a bar code scanning component.

Bar codes represent a nearer term opportunity when compared with mobile visual searches for any given object (a la Goggles). Ubiquity of UPC codes in retail environments and growing appearance and awareness of QR codes (including Google’s own efforts for window decals via Places program) will buoy the segment.

And there’s a growing list of others making a play. ShopSavvy has been around longer than RedLaser but has planted its stake with Android due to some of the hardware restrictions of the iPhone. These include non auto-focus on pre-3Gs models.

RedLaser’s claim to fame is the ability to capture scans without auto-focus, opening its addressable market beyond the most recent (3Gs) iPhone hardware. This has made it a better choice than ShopSavvy’s, at least on the iPhone. Scanbuy meanwhile boasts broader device compatibility, including non-smartphones.

Though it’s quickly growing — and passing the iPhone in device share according to NPD Group today — Android as a platform strategy needs to be coupled with iPhone when possible; iPhone users remain more engaged in usage and download frequency. Android also loses points for the lack of “discovery” features in its store.

For RedLaser, its novelty, cool factor and utility of getting product info via bar code scan, has made it a fixture on the iTunes list of top paid apps ($1.99). ShopSavvy remains a top app on Android’s list of free apps. We see a lot of potential in this segment and I won’t continue to beat that horse, but milestones like today’s are supportive.

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