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CEO: "It is Symbol's goal to lead in the RFID industry"

Lest anyone doubt Symbol Technologies' designs on the RFID space, a CNETAsia interview with the Holtsville, NY, company's CEO Bill Nuti will set the record straight.
Jun 01, 2005This article was originally published by RFID Update.

June 1, 2005—Lest anyone doubt Symbol Technologies' designs on the RFID space, a CNETAsia interview with the Holtsville, NY, company's CEO Bill Nuti will set the record straight. In no uncertain terms Nuti proclaims, "It is Symbol's goal to lead in the RFID industry." Nuti, an ex-Cisco executive who had at one time been expected to succeed legendary Cisco CEO John Chambers as the head of the company, has been credited with pulling Symbol out of an unprofitable, accounting scandal-ridden rut and putting it on a path to growth and profitability.

Nuti's enthusiasm for RFID is especially notable given that just one year ago, the company was an also-ran in the RFID industry. All that changed when it made the aggressive decision in September to acquire RFID tag and hardware manufacturer Matrics for a whopping $230 million. The price was considered too high by many observers, and Nuti himself acknowledges that the acquisition represents one of "two very large bets" for Symbol (the other being a move into mobility software). But despite the hefty premium, owning Matrics made Symbol a leading player in RFID overnight, and it gave the company an arsenal of RFID-related intellectual property with which it could defend itself against archrival Intermec, who at the time had already announced its intention to charge royalties for use of its wide-reaching RFID patent portfolio.

Since then, the companies have sued and counter-sued each other for patent infringement in a highly publicized tit-for-tat battle that has caused worry around the industry that end users might ultimately suffer from worsening support or product availability. Nuti insists that won't happen: "No customer will be affected whatsoever [by the lawsuits]." (Intermec's leadership has also made a point of assuaging customer concerns.) Nuti's tone is confident with respect to the lawsuits when he says that Symbol has "an excellent case."

Nuti notes that active RFID tags are an area where Symbol lacks presence, but one that must be conquered for Symbol to be considered "as the leader in RFID in the general sense." This is an interesting ambition given how little attention is paid to the active RFID space. Most are looking to supply chain-focused passive RFID technology for the exponential, transformative growth. Nuti believes that Symbol is already the leader there, a point that would no doubt be contested by a number of other players. While it has made great strides in recent years, the RFID space is still very immature, and the market a fertile one for aggressive competition from established players and start-ups alike.

See the full interview at CNETAsia
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