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Five Reasons for Optimism

2009 might have been the worst year ever for many companies, but there are reasons to believe next year will be better.
By Mark Roberti
Dec 21, 2009Whether you are an end user, a potential end user or a seller of radio frequency identification technology, chances are this was a tough year for your company. It was certainly the toughest year I've experienced in my eight years as CEO of RFID Journal. I had to make some very difficult decisions this past year. But as 2009 concludes, I find myself feeling optimistic about the future. Here are five reasons why:

Interest in RFID remains strong. Traffic to RFID Journal's Web site is a leading indicator of the RFID market. If traffic were to tail off, it would signal a decline in interest in the technology, and a shrinking of the market. That didn't happen. Our traffic for 2009 will be up—slightly—from 2008. Companies have business problems, and they understand that RFID might be the solution; that's encouraging.

End-user adoption continues apace. There were a lot of stories in the press about businesses cutting back on their RFID deployments, and there is no doubt that projects were put on hold and, in some cases, cancelled. But the reality is, RFID Journal ran five or six articles per week about strong end-user deployments. And in my experience, companies that begin using RFID usually expand their rollouts to cover additional applications. The pressure to lower costs will likely lead to a greater use of RFID and other labor-saving technologies.

RFID technology continues to improve. Strong interest is great, but if the technology doesn't mature, no one will adopt it. One fear I had at the start of 2009 was that RFID technology companies would walk away from the market, or stop investing in new products altogether, causing the technology's maturation to stagnate. While a few software companies shifted their focus away from RFID, and while some hardware firms went under, the vendor community remains strong, overall.

Motorola, for example, introduced a slick new fixed reader and a handy little handheld (see Motorola Announces Handheld Reader for Non-Industrial Uses). NXP Semiconductors launched new chips and revealed plans for further product enhancements (see NXP Shares Product Roadmap and Application Know-How). And Impinj launched a new reader chip and other products (Impinj Adds New Products, Agreements to Its Portfolio).

What this all means is that RFID is becoming cheaper and easier to deploy, and that's good for end users.

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