By all accounts, 2013 seems very eager to live up to its promise of being an interesting year for the barcode technology market. To start off, Motorola Solutions Inc. (MSI) made a new product announcement today – the multi-plane 100% camera-based bioptic imager/scale MP6000 – the company’s first foray into the high-volume stationary POS scanning market. What makes this particularly interesting is that up until today, Motorola was the only player from among the BIG THREE in the overall barcode scanner market (the others being Datalogic and Honeywell) with no stationary POS offering for high-throughput retail environments. We expect MSI to sell this product into grocery stores, supermarkets, hypermarkets, mass merchandisers and other such big box retailers. MSI credits its customer-side scanner to be one of its biggest competitive differentiators in an “almost exclusive” bioptic scanner market essentially governed by 3 players – Datalogic, Honeywell and NCR. Motorola’s scanner enables customers to simultaneously scan their own coupons, gift cards and loyalty cards, including those displayed on smartphone screens, with the attendant/cashier facilitating the POS checkout process.
Motorola has established a strong presence for itself in the camera-based, 2D imaging solutions market, particularly with the handheld form factor. VDC’s research covering the space indicates that the company has made significant strides in capitalizing on the explosive growth opportunities that this 2D solution configuration has to offer, especially given end users’ critical requirement to future-proof their technology investments. With continued advancements in 2D performance, Motorola considers the high transaction volume retail market to be primed for a switch from a laser- to a fully camera-based bioptic scanning solution - one that can lower operational costs and enhance data capture efficiencies.
While this is all great news for retailers and the barcode industry doing away with triopoly in this specific technology segment, it will be interesting to see how Motorola prices its newly introduced product. Although the performance of camera-based imaging solutions has improved drastically versus laser technology, pricing is not an apples-to-apples comparison given the increased complexity and high cost of underlying solution components. Will the company’s success with imaging on the handheld side translate to an equivalent achievement with the stationary form factor? This remains to be seen. In our opinion, Motorola will initially target large, Tier-1 retail chains with this product; small-and-medium sized businesses still have to wait their turn, particularly with the (anticipated) pricing structure. My expectation is that Motorola’s success mantra in this market just might be an increased focus on profitability over sales volume – due to the higher associated margins for this brand new product in its portfolio – positioning the company as a one-stop shop to fulfill their retail customers’ barcode scanning as well as future EAS and/or RFID requirements.