A QR code is a graphic which contains hidden data. Using an app on your smart phone, taking a photo of the QR code can send the browser on the smart phone to the website URL hidden in the QR code.
QR codes can be distributed anywhere you can display something.
QR codes meanwhile are still generated in Google's URL shortener.
WHY DOES GOOGLE REMOVE QR SUPPORT?
NFC stands for Near Field Communication. Small RFID-like passive transmitters can send out information to a smart phone if the device is within a 10 cm. range. The power of the receiver, the mobile phone, essentially feeds the RFID so that it, the transmitter, doesn't need to rely on a battery of its own.
A popular predicted application of NFC is to use your mobile phone as a wallet: you would pass it in front of a sensor instead of passing your bankcard through a slot.
Google works on a mobile payment system relying on NFC.
Google says that they're "exploring new ways to enable customers to quickly and easily find information about local businesses from their mobile phones".
Besides QR codes and QR look-a-likes the only other technology available that would do that .. is NFC.
Perhaps this is Google's way of helping push businesses to use NFC?
THE FUTURE OF QR
QR codes are easy to generate, simple to print, distribute and display. QR codes can appear anywhere print can.
QR codes can be processed by any smart phone with a camera and the right app.
For NFC to act as the carrier of information QR codes are commonly used for now by businesses an NFC-tag layer has to be added to the print medium.
To process NFC tags the smart phone has to support NFC.
The flexibility, ease, and low cost of QR code implementation seems to suggest prolonged life for QR.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU
The signal Google is sending is interesting but not yet industry significant.