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A Conversation With NXP's Tony Sabetti and Steve Owen

Two of the RFID chipmaker's top executives talk about the RFID market, chip security and NFC phone applications.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Oct 06, 2009A passive RFID tag is primarily an integrated circuit (silicon chip) joined to an antenna, and NXP Semiconductors—a spin-off of Royal Philips Electronics—is one of the world's largest RFID chipmakers. Steve Owen is NXP's global VP for identification sales and marketing, and Tony Sabetti recently became the firm's new senior director of identification for business development, strategy and marketing, for North America (Sabetti previously worked at major RFID hardware manufacturers Sirit and Texas Instruments). Owen and Sabetti recently spoke with RFID Journal regarding the state of the RFID industry.

RFID Journal: How has the recession impacted NXP's RFID business?

Steve Owen: From a global perspective, there has been a slow-down that we've seen, in terms of new projects coming to market. This is the case in all industries, but particularly RFID has been impacted by [decreased] IT spending. What we see in traditional areas—for instance, in library applications and those types of businesses that are already established [users of radio frequency identification technology], and where the return on investment is clear—is that they are actually seeing some growth and an increase in number of units [of RFID chips] shipped.

Tony Sabetti: [In North America], we have heard from end customers that they have elected to postpone projects due to the financial situation that they find themselves in. Though, to Steve's point, when we have an existing installation, a traditional area with a well-documented return on investment in RFID, those continue to move along steadily. It really is the newer growth areas where we see the larger impact.

RFID Journal: Do you think you've reached the bottom? Is new business starting to pick up?

Sabetti: In the U.S., we've seen projects tied to government projects that are starting to come back to life, and we've seen a renewed confidence in the financial sector to move forward with projects.

Owen: I think we reached the bottom in terms of reduction in sales in the industry. We are starting to see a pick-up, but I do not get a sense of massive growth. It's reasonable growth, but not massive. On the global level, China is where we are seeing new projects coming to life that have been dormant for some time.

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