Is cell phone and Internet technology killing the business card? Over the last two decades, print promotion has certainly taken a slight downward turn as businesses embrace web-based promotion and turn away from flyers, business cards, magazine ads, and the printed word.
In the 1980’s the business card was king. It was absolutely essential for all businessmen and women to have a “killer” business card. The business card was often the key to successful social and business networking. Over the last 20 years, advances in cell phone technology have created a situation where people can swap numbers and information using their cell phones. It’s a fact that more people own a cell phone than a set of business cards!
So why would a business professional even need business cards? The answer to this is simple. Although I don’t believe that the business card is the status symbol that it once was, I would argue that it is still an essential business tool. Even in today’s advanced technological environment, it would be foolish to go anywhere without a few business cards to quickly handout to potential customers! It saves time. Even if your customer has a cell phone, handing out a business card is still a much quicker way of passing on your information.
However, the new generation of 3G-cell phone technology may represent a whole new threat to the business card. Phone users can now download specific “apps” for swapping business information. Phone apps such as “Bump” enable users to instantly swap business information by “bumping phones”. With apps such as Bump available, can the business card survive the 3G threat? I’m certain that it will! Popular apps like “Swap It” and “Bump” rely on every other person you meet having the same app uploaded on their phone for it to work. You may be ready to “bump” but unless everyone else is also ready to “bump”, you’re not going to be able to share your information! Rather than being the death of the business card, I believe that the new generation cell phone technology will make the business card more popular.
Web and technology companies are currently revolutionizing the manner in which we use and exchange visual information with apps such as “Google Goggles”. Although it is still in its infancy, Google Goggles enables the phone user to turn photographic information of places, artwork, text, etc, into usable data. For instance, a person can take a picture of a poster and Google Goggles will read the visual and textual information and produce web results based on that information. Because Google Goggles can distinguish the text in a photograph, it gives the user the awesome ability to photograph a business card and instantly input that person’s information directly into their contact list! (Unfortunately, Google Goggles is only available for a trial spell on the Android handset but is predicted for iphone and other platform release in early 2010)
Google Goggles will allow users to photograph a business card and then convert the photographed text into actual text data.
Google Goggles will likely prove to be the worlds most effective scanning and reading technology but there are already similar apps available. Business Card Reader, for instance, is an incredible networking tool. I have used this myself and found it to be pretty accurate at converting photographic imagery into text data. It’s not perfect and I have noticed a couple of text reading errors but I foresee that apps such as these may well breathe new life into the business card.
The business card has remained a popular business networking tool because it’s represents route 1 marketing – the transference of your number and business information to another person. It’s simple and uncomplicated. That’s why it works. Technology companies such as Google recognize the importance of the business card and have developed their app to work in unison with, rather than trying to replace it. The simple fact is that there is still no easier way of exchanging business information than a business card! As long as people carry wallets, then there will always be a place for the business card.