Motorola’s venture arm said it invested an undisclosed sum in Scanbuy, a company that offers mobile barcode products and services.

With the investment, Motorola joins Microsoft and other companies in pursuing the mobile barcode market.

Scanbuy offers services that let mobile operators, advertisers and media companies generate and analyse 2D mobile barcode campaigns. For example, an advertiser can use Scanbuy to create a 2D barcode to place in a magazine advertisement. People who see the barcode can use an application on their mobile phones that captures an image of the barcode with the phone’s camera. The application then directs the user to a web page that the advertiser specifies, where the user might buy a product, receive a coupon or launch a video.

The Scanbuy application is available on Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, Java and Symbian phones.

The concept of using a phone to read barcodes is growing in popularity along with the more widespread use of camera phones. The Android Market and the iPhone App Store include applications that read standard barcodes that appear on most products. Those applications typically search for the product that the barcode identifies online and show the price of the product from various retailers.

Microsoft has a mobile barcode service called Microsoft Tag. Its barcodes are already appearing in advertisements, and the phone application that lets people read the codes is available for Symbian, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, Java and the iPhone.

Google has used mobile barcodes in its own promotions. It distributed decals to businesses that use its Place Pages websites. The idea is that a business can place the decal in a store window and passersby can use their mobile phones to scan the 2D barcode and connect to the business’ website.