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End Users Want an iPod
Could an RFID company build a solution that is easy to deploy, works well and doesn't involve a lot of hassle? If so, it could dramatically boost the technology's adoption.
Dec 12, 2011—I wrote last week about large technology companies not investing in radio frequency identification, and missing out on the opportunity to be the "gorilla" in the market (see Who Lost the RFID Industry?). One reader posted a follow-up comment saying that owning the market is an unrealistic "obsession," adding that the RFID industry "will develop step-by-step," and that I "cannot talk it to greatness."
The truth is, RFID companies used to be obsessed with owning the market. In the past, many wanted to sell proprietary systems in the hope of becoming the Microsoft of RFID (which was never going to happen). But no one thinks that way now. In fact, very few firms are focused on becoming the gorilla. And even those that say they have read and embrace the writings of Geoffrey Moore often fail to adopt strategies likely to lead to market dominance.
According to Moore, before a new technology, such as RFID, can go mainstream, there must be a problem that no other technology can solve, as well as a global standard, a whole product, a critical mass of users and a gorilla that the rest of the market feels safe to embrace.
The problem is that there is no whole RFID product. End users can buy tags, readers and software, and then hire someone to integrate them, but that involves investing time and money—and, perhaps more important, taking a significant risk. The project might fail, and all of that time and money would be wasted. That is probably the biggest drag on the market today.
A similar state of affairs existed before Apple introduced the iPod. There were hardware and software for downloading songs off of CDs. There were MP3 players for playing those tunes. And there was some software for managing playlists. But all of these things were not integrated by a single company, and MP3 player sales were sluggish. The first MP3 player was introduced in 1998. By 2001, sales had reached a modest 750,000.
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