First, in a recent study by The Neilsen Company, Apple iOS users had an average of 48 apps on their mobile device and Android users had an average of 35 apps on their mobile device. Of the 48 and 35 apps, respectively, I would wager that consumers have more than one app for news, more than one app for finance, more than one app for games, more than one app for social networking, more than one app for entertainment, travel, dining, etc., etc., so, why should it matter that there is no one (i.e., universal) 2D barcode reader app? To scan the vast majority of 2D barcodes in today's marketplace, all a consumer needs is a QR Code reader app and a Microsoft Tag reader app. Two apps out of 25, 30, 35, 40, etc., what's the big deal? If, however, the argument is that without a universal code reader app consumers would not know which app to use to scan a particular code and then they would simply not bother scanning, then I believe the real issue is with the advertisers. Advertisers should, as best practice, inform consumers which reader app is needed to scan the code used in their ads. At this early stage in the game, where codes are just starting to enter the mainstream, consumers should not have to figure out or guess which app to use on their own. Advertisers need to step up in this area.
Second, last I checked, a consumer needed to search, locate and download the app for Facebook, The New York Times, ESPN, Fandango or any other application that they were interested in prior to use so, why should it be any different for 2D barcodes? Yes, the process of searching, locating and downloading an app may be a hassle but, here too, if the advertiser is able to help the consumer the hassle becomes less so. Also, once the app is loaded the job is done. It's not as if this is a recurring issue or problem to contend with each and every time a consumer wishes to scan a code.
So much of 2D and mobile is based on the consumer/user experience, and advertisers must understand this and be willing to take the lead here, or else 2D barcode adoption will most certainly suffer. Let's not get lazy and blame it on the code reader apps or, even worse, the consumer.