Does barcode scanning from smartphones only work for products from America?

Dr.Sunil V June 28, 2013

Does barcode scanning from smartphones work only for products from America? Is the search engine for barcodes only able to recognise US products?

  1. Justin Pot
    June 28, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Barcodes are fairly universal at this point, but I've noticed that most the scanning apps are oriented towards the US/EU markets. So you'll get a product description, but you might not be able to see which stores nearby are selling the good you're looking for. This has more to do with the infrastructure of the stores than the apps themselves – many Indian stores don't report their stock to the web.

    • Dr.sunil V
      July 2, 2013 at 11:17 am


      Pretty informative

  2. Vennroxx
    June 28, 2013 at 1:30 pm


  3. Oron Joffe
    June 28, 2013 at 8:15 am

    While I can't tell you exactly what information you'll get from your app, I can say a) that the apps I've tried in the UK work fine and b) since the product barcodes conform to international standards, the app should work with any product. The caveat is, of course, that some products will be better covered on the internet than others, and that depends to a great extent on how "internetted" the market place is in the first place. In other words, give it a try!

    • Dr.Sunil V
      June 28, 2013 at 5:19 pm


      I read your reply with care

      Appending a sub-question : You mentioned 'international standards" and 'internetted' ..

      I noticed that barcode readers find information from Google search

      So do you mean the barcodes are to be conformed to Google results protocols? If yes , so barcode readers which act to display product info through Google search work only for America?

      and as the first respondent has mentioned : Apps which search through another search engine work for the country conforming to the engine?

    • Oron Joffe
      June 28, 2013 at 7:41 pm

      There are different ways of creating barcodes ("symbologies"), but product barcodes (i.e. the ones printed on products which are scanned for example at the checkout) conform to an internationally agreed standard and can be read by any bar code reader anywhere. You can find out more at .
      However, reading the code on a product, which describes the product uniquely, is only part of the issue. What you are actually after is finding *useful information about the product*, and at this stage, international standards are not enough. Some products are described very well on the internet, some are not. Generally, how well they are described depends on the maturity (internet-wise) of the market.
      Secondly, and separately, you can search for the barcode on Google, Bing or another search engine, but general purpose search engines, such as these are very much a hit-or-miss affair. They contain information they have "stumbled across" while crawling the web, so they don't always find the best information.
      There are also product databases out there, and some apps will have direct access to them. If they do, they will work better than ones which simply google the barcode (provided the barcode is covered in that database).
      Unless you are an expert on product databases around the world AND the apps that support them (how many people meet that description? Certainly not me!), you will not be able to assess an app's accuracy from the description alone, which is why I suggest you try out some apps for yourself and find out though experimentation what quality of result you can expect.

  4. Leland Whitlock
    June 28, 2013 at 8:12 am

    Barcodes are used world wide. When you come up with a new product and need a barcode you have to register the product with a company and then you get issued your barcode. Once you have that you can print your own but the initial setup requires another company to get it registered world wide. See more info at

    • Dr.Sunil V
      June 28, 2013 at 5:14 pm


      That information is useful in relevance to the topic of discussion

      Appending a sub-question : Do you imply that unless the barcode is registered with an international governing body it won't be searchable through smartphone barcode readers for product name , type , model number?

    • Leland Whitlock
      June 29, 2013 at 11:04 pm

      Unfortunately there is no international registry that covers all regions. You will find more detailed information on registration and how it works at the following sites.

  5. Harshit J
    June 28, 2013 at 7:31 am

    I tried many barcode scanning apps but these do not show any information about products here in India.

    • Ahan Kala
      June 29, 2013 at 5:46 am

      They show !

    • Dr.sunil V
      July 2, 2013 at 11:15 am


      @Harshit : Precisely why I asked this question. So does this imply that barcode reading from smartphone in India is redundant?

      @Ahan : Can you pl web-reference apps which can display product information for bar-coded products in India?

  6. Kay Fritz
    June 28, 2013 at 4:54 am

    It will propably scan every barcode and deliver some basic informations (at least it worked for me here in germany with my joghurtdrink). The rest of the information the app propably would search on the internet (it got the number and identified it correctly on several websites).

    • Dr.Sunil V
      June 28, 2013 at 5:11 pm


      Yes the barcode readers for Android do display basic information but not the product type , name , model no.

  7. Craig Crichton
    June 28, 2013 at 2:55 am

    it fully depends what you're using to scan it/what you're scanning.

    if the barcode is in the database of the search engine you're using then it will show if it isn't then it won't.

    in short:
    depending on circumstances NO, it doesn't only work for US products.

    -if you're scanning a well known product chances are it will come up.

    -if you're scanning a individual part barcode say from inside an electronic device... this may only be for factory use and therefore won't show up.

    from personal experience of me and others "redlaser" is a great one to use and will usually bring up your product.

    tip: did you also know if your product is from a specific place/store then their app usually has it's own built in scanner that just scans there products.

    take for example Ebay, their app now included "redlaser" right from within the app (the button can be found to the right of the search bar on the search tab).

    as far as i know there isn't a single smartphone app that scans every single barcode and finds a match.

    you might want to have a read of which gives brief summaries of the best apps depending on which smartphone you have and your needs.

    hope this helps.

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