Apr 10, 2006Shortly after I launched RFID Journal in 2002, I received an e-mail from a gentleman who politely told me I was crazy. “I admire your effort,” he said, “but you are never going to make a go of it. The RFID industry is too small and the technology too niche. There’s no advertising, and I can’t believe you are going to survive on subscription revenue.”
Wow, I thought, if even the people in this industry think I can’t survive, maybe I really am being overly optimistic about RFID’s potential. But I had launched the company with just $500 in startup capital, and I figured I didn’t have a whole lot to lose, so I persisted in my naïve way.
Four years later, the world looks very different. RFID still isn’t a mainstream technology, but it’s well on its way to becoming one. And almost every day, I learn about a new company entering the market. That’s why we decided it was time to publish the RFID Journal 2006 Buyer’s Guide to RFID Resources. The idea is to produce an annual listing of the top RFID companies in 11 market segments:
- Tags and Interrogators
- Tags, Labels and Chips
- Label Printers and Applicators
- Active and Real-Time Locating Systems
- Enterprise Applications
- Service Providers
This year’s debut guide contains profiles of 160 RFID companies and information about their primary products. Vendors don’t pay to be listed and don’t control what we write. I point this out because in many industries, companies have to pay to be listed in a buyer’s guide. We didn’t take that approach because, while it can be lucrative, it is ultimately a disservice to readers. Some important companies might decide not to participate in a paid buyer’s guide, which would mean those using the guide wouldn’t get a full picture of their best options, and those who do pay often provide content that can be less than objective.
We selected vendors that have established themselves in at least one of the 11 key segments of the RFID market. Some companies are in more than one segment but are listed only once. IBM, for instance, sells middleware, RFID printers and business consulting and integration services. We chose to list them under middleware, but they could also have been listed in either of the other two categories. We also chose companies that have been in the market for a couple of years and have proven products—and customers.
I know I’ll be getting a lot of grief from the companies that didn’t make it into this year’s guide. They will argue—in many cases, rightly so—that they can meet end users’ needs. But we simply can’t list every legitimate RFID vendor.
Next year’s guide will be bigger, and by that time, many early-stage companies will be more mature and have more customers, so they might well make the cut. And, no doubt, some companies featured in this year’s guide will be gone by next year. At the very last minute—as we were going to press, in fact—we had to remove the listing for SAMSys, a reader maker that had gone under, with Sirit acquiring its assets and technology.
The RFID Journal 2006 Buyer’s Guide to RFID Resources. is a value-added service we are providing to all of our premium subscribers, with extra copies available for purchase through this Web site. If you are not a premium subscriber, click here to learn how to purchase your copy. We’re publishing the buyer’s guide in conjunction with RFID Journal LIVE!, our annual conference and exhibition, which is being held in Las Vegas, May 1-3. Many of the vendors in the guide will be exhibiting there, so those attending the show will be able to search the guide, figure out which companies can meet their needs and then speak to them at their booths.
But this is not just a guide for the exhibition. It’s a unique resource that we’re sure you’ll find invaluable and refer to often during the course of the year.
Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below.