Hardware Standard Could Be Near-Term Catalyst As RFID Investment Levels Have Lagged Expectations
WAL-MART REMAINS PRIME MOVER IN RFID . . . With six months to go before its initial RFID mandates take effect, Wal-Mart recently reiterated its commitment to the January 2005 rollout for its top suppliers. The giant retailer remains the prime mover in this space, setting in motion accelerated product development and standards-making activity, as well as RFID mandates from other early adopters. A growing number of companies are pursuing this growth opportunity, and we have categorized and profiled more than 100 of them in this report. As vendor competition heats up, we believe there will be adequate manufacturing capacity to meet expected demand for RFID solutions.
. . . BUT RECENT INVESTMENT BELOW EXPECTATIONS. We believe the level of investment in RFID hardware and software is tracking below expectations, especially as compliance deadlines approach. Many industry participants we spoke with noted that some firms facing the mandates are reluctant to make
material investments in RFID now because new standards under development could render obsolete previous RFID equipment purchases. A patent infringement lawsuit filed in early June could further impede near-term adoption.
GEN 2 STANDARD COULD BE CATALYST FOR INCREASED SPENDING. That said, we expect consumer packaged goods (CPG) firms and other suppliers facing mandates to step up their hardware and software purchases with resolution of the generation 2 electronic product code (EPC) hardware specification (Gen 2). Ultimately, we anticipate that this will serve as a catalyst for increased spending. The global standard for RFID tag/reader communications should serve as a foundation for broad adoption.