Article by Randy Durig
Let the RFID Cycle Begin – Intermec
By Randy Durig
RFID a great growth market
A new revolutionary technology is forming called RFID or Radio Frequency Identification. This technology greatly improved the ability to track items, any item. The current leading market solution uses a one way system where, for example, a simple “bar code” at your local grocery store where the grocery clerk has to run the bar code over a scanner. These readings are very man-hour intensive as each individual item must be scanned RFID is a two way system where a reader could scan every item at a Wal-Mart (WMT-48.14) store. Then each item with a RFID tag would respond or “chirp” back to the reader. Using the two way RFID system a single person could take complete inventory of a store almost eliminating all the man-hours of manual inventory. A reader mounted on a fork lift truck would track each item the hyster moves into the warehouse. The RFID will allow a single person the ability to inventory unlimited amounts of items.
Using our simple forecasting theorem which mathematically helps us forecasts how successful technologies will be; our approach signaled that RFID will be revolutionary.
Please refer to forecasting a revolution Multiplication of Moore’s law http://www.durig.com/duriglaw.html.
Here are some of the many uses of RFID. Tracking gamblers at a black jack table so the house knows who’s betting big, tracking prisoners in a jail to see who was involved in a scuffle, tracking prescription drugs for counterfeit, tracking cattle for mad cow disease, tracking cars so police could immediately identify a stolen car or a car with outstanding issues. More examples, tracking passports to see if the picture is correct, tracking products for Wal-Mart to almost any store and warehouse, tracking the Department of Defense inventories for most items, Boeing can track parts for building aircrafts and Ford tracking parts for it automobiles. It appears that both the scope and magnitude at this time is limitless.
Industries tracking consumer goods from shoes to cement blocks to frozen food to cars, including boats, planes, parts and supplies can utilize it in all aspects from manufacturing, inventory and shipping to retail outlets.
Judging from our theorems, RFID will see revolutionary growth to the likes of the cell phone, Personal Computer and the Internet that also at the beginning of their cycles scored extremely high.
From IdtechEx, the market for RFID is to grow from 2.7 billion in 2006 to 12.3 billion in 2010. The value is expected to be about 26.2 billion in 2016 or ten years to grow almost 10 times.
Selecting the company that could lead that market
Identify the correct market to invest is only part of the challenge. Possibly the bigger challenge is to identify the company that will lead this technology. This is where we have identified Intermec. Intermec is one of the leading companies in bar codes. Over the last few years Intermec has been focused on developing products that would comply with the new Gen 2 RFID standard rather than introduce products that supported the older Gen 1 Class and 0 Class protocols. This strategy has allowed Intermec to utilize its roughly 149 patents to allow Intermec to extract royalties from the entire RFID industry and appear to be essential when utilizing the Gen 2 RFID standard. The Gen 2 RFID standard and Intemec’s patents are very co-depended of each other. In my opinion Intermec is gaining an integration monopolistic position.
Why monopolies have great success
Past monopolies have had great success from controlling the market like Intermec integrating their solution into and then helped become part of the standard. Compared to war it is the equivalent of having the high ground in battles – this approach is extremely valuable. Control in new revolutionary technologies is very rare. Our studies shows that in the past when companies achieved control they are usually able to hold it for 1-2 business cycles or from 9 -19 years. Some past successes that have demonstrated integration and or control of revolutionary products were Microsoft (MSFT-27.13) and Intel (INTC-19.78) in the Personal Computer, Cisco (CSCO-21.44) for the Internet and Qualcomm (QCOM-49.87) currently for Cell Phones. When I was young child IBM (IBM-84.32) controlled the standard for Mainframe and AT&T (T-26.81) the phone business. You can often see companies that are monopolistic in a revolutionary industry have a probability of achieving super wealth. Several monopolies we listed achieved the world’s largest stock value.
Is Intermec a new monopoly?
Intermec or any company for that matter to have a chance to be great monopoly it must have a degree of control. The question is how much control does Intermec have over the RFID industry?
To answer this simple but very important question we devised an extremely effective test. Intermec claim’s to be an integral part of the Gen 2 standard. The definition of de facto standard is recognized by all its peers as the standard.
Does the RFID industry recognize Intermec as the standard?
Companies like Symbol Technology (SBL-10.64), Zebra Technology (ZBRA-45.45), Philips Electronics (PHG-32.38), Texas Instrument (TXN-30.59) are some of the leading companies in RFID space that also have the size, technical background, law staff and other resources to verify or reject Intermec’s claim. Accepting Intermec’s claim means paying royalties to Intermec for years, you must understand if possible all theses companies would NOT want to pay royalties so their preferences is to reject Intermec’s claim.
All the companies mentioned above and more have agreed that Intermec will receive royalties on every Gen 2 RFID product they make. No one wants to pay 2.5-7% royalty to Intermec to utilize the Gen 2 RFID standards. Especially leaders in RFID like Phillips, Texas Instrument and Symbol which all have a major leading position in the market, and their agreements with Intermec greatly validated Intermec’s claims.
It was when the largest company and Intermec’s closest competitor, Symbol Technologies, that created the biggest challenge to Intermec’s claims. Symbol Technologies not only refused to pay early in the process, but sued Intermec asking for Intermec to pay Symbol royalties for their many patents and Symbol wanted their own version of the standard.
Symbol gave up their court fight and agrees to join Intermec’s Rapid Start Licensing program. When your biggest competitor allows you to sign a controlling contract where Symbol has to pay royalties to Intermec every time Symbol sells a RFID hardware product. To me the Intermec/Symbol relationship Intermec has provided validation with a very high degree of control.
Many experts assign a similar agreement to the rise of Microsoft and the downfall of IBM when IBM accepted the Microsoft PC standard. I believe history will say the same thing when Nokia (NOK-20.52) then the largest cell phone company in the world signed and agreed to pay royalties to Qualcomm on all Nokia 3G phones.
It reminds me of a very old saying “the king is dead, long live the king” if you can dictate your will to the powerful companies your have a high degree of control.
Gutter vs. Shingles
Intermec is using their RFID control to establish what I call a gutter business. In Oregon it rains a lot and what we know are roofs. Water from shingles flow into a gutter. In some cases the gutter and shingles are co-dependent and need each other for the roof to work properly. First gutters have tremendous leverage. Second you could measure the number of shingles or measure the square footage of the roof to understand the amount of possible water flow or leverage the gutter might achieve We believe gutter based companies are far better companies to own. If you wanted fill a cup of water would you put your cup under a shingle or a gutter? It’s my believe that by far most companies are shingles business models, but the gutter business model have far great potential to grow profits utilizing and leveraging the shingles.
In a few situations all the shingles combined could flow into a single gutter. A roof with a single gutter or a monopoly has one of the best business models and has a chance to leverage the entire industry to enrich its profits.
Intermec is possibly building this type of business model and has awarded the premier client of Cisco, and IBM while having alliances with Microsoft, Oracle and SAP. Companies that joined Intermec’s Rapid Start Program and agreed to pay Intermec a royalty on every RFID hardware product they sell.