Smart Decode – Not quite ready, but seems alright

Smart Communications launched Smart Decode yesterday. Although it’s probably going to be used for a bunch useless promotions (Ringbacks? Seriously?), I just realized that this is actually The Solution to all the senseless typing of VAS (“value added services”) commands.

Let me give you an idea:

“Type DUMMYKEYWORD space REGISTER space your FIRST NAME space YOUR LAST NAME space asterisk space YOUR ADDRESS space asterisk YOUR LANDLINE space asterisk, and send this to 999.”

Sounds familiar, no? Of course it does. This is the language that we Earthlings have learned from Pluto. Coincidentally, this is the same language that content partners decided to use in order to confuse, er, help users in using their SMS-based mobile services.

Need to download a wallpaper?
Type DUMMYWALLPAPER space PHONE MODEL space WALLPAPER NAME, shake it to the left, jump ten times, and send to 999.

With Smart Decode, this insanity will pretty much be eradicated. The content partner will simply generate a code (which can be printed in their posters, fliers, and print ads).

When you, The User, see this code, all you have to do is take its picture using your phone’s camera. Almost instantaneously you will be presented with a nice interface where you can fill in forms, download your operator logo, etc. — all in human readable form.

The code is called an mcode (“mobile code”). It’s a 2D barcode which stores information in a bunch of dots.

But ooh-la-la, mcode is not just for those boring content partners who can’t seem to make a decent mobile application. We regular users, The Much Cooler Ones, can have a little fun of our own:

  • Contact information. Definitely a lot more hip than sending a vcard thru bluetooth. Make your friends take a picture of your mcode (which you conveniently printed out & kept in your wallet). Voila! Your contact info will automatically be saved in their address books.
  • SMS message. You can have an mcode to generate a specific SMS message. You can also have it sent to a predefined number.
  • URLs. Your mcode can contain the URL of your website. When your friends scan it, they will be shown a link (which they can click to launch your website in their phone’s browser).
  • Phone numbers. You can scan an mcode to automatically dial a specified phone number.

“Naku, kailangan ko tawagan si Procopio! Ano nga ba ang number nya?”
“Ito o. I-decode mo na lang!”

(And that, ladies & gentlemen, is the reason why no ad agency was stupid enough to hire me as a copywriter.)

In order to scan an mcode, you need to download & install Smart Decode (don’t worry, you won’t get charged for the download). Using your phone’s browser, go to Click on the link on the website to install the software automatically (no need to mess around with those jar and sis files).

Take note that you need to use your Smart cellphone to download Decode. You cannot download the application using a Globe or Sun SIM, or even your good ol’ DSL connection.

Some observations on Smart’s credit (give two points for Smart over here!):

  • The application loads real fast even on a crappy Nokia 6600.
  • It takes an average of 2 seconds for the software to “decode” the mcode.
  • You can actually scan the mcode even if its tilted (it will just take a little longer to scan it).

There’s something missing in the equation, though (gimme back those points, dear): The ability for users to create their own codes.

C’mon, Smart, share the love. Help us look cool with those mcodes in our pockets.

Let’s try it out

I was able to generate my own mcodes only because I was a resourceful & nice little girl. Try it out below:

Check your Smart prepaid balance.


This is the most popular SMS I receive on my phone

Wow! Ang galing mo na mag-decode!

My contact info (goodbye vcard!)

Laugh out loud

10 thoughts on “Smart Decode – Not quite ready, but seems alright”

  1. Hi Chette,

    Very nice piece. :) I can still remember testing the same technology 2 years ago with the open source technology incorporating it to our system. However, it is too early too soon then so our project for this one is still in the freezer. Now, that Smart have introduced it in the market, people will be educated on how to use such system and technology. Unlike other bar code reader, this one uses the camera of the phone, basically an optical scanner and the software application to interpret the messages. Our system, since using the Semacode interprets Data Matrix, I wonder what Smart uses? Can it inter operate with data matrix 2D bar code?

  2. Decode proves that Smart still embraces cutting edge technology. Not like other networks who only care about services which will gain profit immediately. If Smart plays its cards right, this technology will be a breakthrough in future mobile services.

  3. GREAT post Chette. Keep us updated on this. I can\’t wait till SMART deploys on their mobile social networking: one click and become friends on MySpace or Yahoo. Do you know if the code can run as a wall paper on your phone? That way if you meet someone at a bar you could scan their code and hook up on your mobile social site of preference.

    Also, you got picked up by a big US mobile blog:

  4. Great Explanation of Decode Chette. I saw this on the Smart website when I paid my bill today, but it wasn\’t at all clear how to use it, but your explanation was great!

  5. @Dave M: Thanks! :) (I’m guessing you’re the Dave I know in cyberview!) Smart did a bad job, I think, in communicating this technology to the users. Sayang nga eh. I think it has the potential to be used on a wider scale.

    @CodeFan: Visited the site you mentioned. Looks very cool.

  6. How are the consumers reacting to decode? Is the user base increasing? This is a very interesting technology which can revolutionize a lot of mobile services.

  7. Hi chette,i actually need your help,i reside in Nigeria.I am actually using a reltel landline and i need a code which i will use to make my landline phone accept any other sim card apart from the reltel sim

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