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AWID Announces $1000 Gen2 Reader

RFID reader manufacturer AWID today announced the availability of a Gen2 reader, complete with four antennas, for $1,000. The low price represents a 70% drop when compared to prices of similar hardware available on the market.
Sep 28, 2005This article was originally published by RFID Update.

September 28, 2005—RFID reader manufacturer Applied Wireless Identifications (AWID) today announced the availability of a Gen2 reader, complete with four antennas, for $1,000. The staggeringly low price represents a 70% drop when compared to prices for similar hardware available on the market, according to the press release. The MPR-3014, along with the $400 MPR-1510 reader module, are two of the nine readers recently certified by EPCglobal as Gen2 compliant. The MPR-3014 comes with four optically isolated general-purpose I/O ports and power over Ethernet, and it is available with four or eight ports. The reader development kit for the unit costs $1,600. The MPR-1510 reader module is designed for integration into printer/encoders, label applicators, hand-held and vehicle mount readers. As the module in all models of Printronix printer/encoders and Psion Teklogix UHF hand-held readers, it already enjoys a widely-deployed base. Its development kit costs $700.

RFID Update spoke with AWID President (and Alien Technologies founder and ex-CEO) Jeff Jacobsen about the announcement and its significance to the market. "A lot of people will see this $1,000 price as exceptional. To us, we've known it's where we need to be," said Jacobsen. To realize the vision of widely-adopted RFID as an enabler of supply chain visibility, the technology's cost must come down, he said. "It is our job to see that readers become a commodity."

With regard to the inclusion of four antennas with each reader, Jacobsen spoke to the fact that RFID readers typically cost more than the price at which they are advertised because required components such as cables and antennas are sold separately. "By the time you finish adding everything to make the reader work, you got yourself a $2,500 or $3,000 reader," he said. AWID's tack is to offer all the necessary components under one umbrella price.

When asked how AWID is able to charge such low prices, Jacobsen cited the company's links with Asia. "We've got incredible manufacturing capacity in Taiwan and China. We've got extensive contacts throughout Asia," he said. "I haven't seen any sign that any [competing RFID reader vendor] has as good a manufacturing capacity in place." And lest people assume that the readers represent a loss leader strategy in an effort to grab market share, Jacobsen was keen to point out that AWID "makes at least a 50% margin" on what it sells. "We operate as a profitable company," he said.

Jacobsen also touted the quality of AWID readers, pointing out that Hewlett Packard has been using them extensively. Given its core competency as a world-leading technology company, HP is known for being a demanding consumer of technology. "You have understand that [HP people] are the most sophisticated and difficult customers in the world to sell to. It is not like selling readers to companies that make soap and cereal." HP's usage of AWID readers therefore rings as a strong endorsement, according to Jacobsen. "We've been through the test of fire. Some really good people have tested our products."

Today's announcement of a $1,000 Gen2 reader compounded by last week's announcement from Avery Dennison of a 7.9-cent inlay and RSI's announcement of a 14.9-cent tag has jolted the industry to attention. The competing inlay, tag, and reader vendors, if they had not already planned a similar price point for their own products, must be scrambling to figure out how they will compete. Adding to that longer term concern, they probably have the immediate problem of existing clients calling them and demanding price breaks. End-users, for their part, are probably taking a much harder and closer look at their deployments, deciding whether the drastically reduced prices on both readers and tags mean that the implementation schedule should be accelerated or the scale expanded. Most everyone else -- systems integrators, application and middleware providers, and any other subset of the RFID industry whose fortunes are essentially tied to the technology's adoption rate -- should certainly be pleased at the prospect of faster adoption.

Read the AWID Press Release
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