With three quarters of 2013 already behind us, the VDC AutoID team thought it would be interesting to revisit the 2013 predictions we made at the start of the year. In this blog post we examine our barcode predictions and offer an update as we head into the final stretch of 2013.
More barcode market aggregation ahead – Expect continued consolidation of the barcode hardware landscape, particularly to achieve growth across product categories, verticals and regions.
Update: It may not even be over but 2013 will be remembered as another year in which we witnessed a large amount of vendor consolidation. The major acquisition of Intermec by Honeywell will likely be the big story of 2013. That transaction's impact and significance dwarfs all other M&A activities announced to date and more than likely any others that may be completed before year’s end. Somewhat surprising, however, is that our prediction proved true before the Honeywell/Intermec deal closed as at least five acquisitions were announced by the end of May.
M&A announcements of note during the first three quarters in the barcode market include:
- Honeywell completed the acquisition of Intermec after receiving final FTC approval, adding new or augmenting existing solutions in voice, barcode printing, RFID and mobile computing (September).
- OCR Canada acquired Aurora Bar Code Technologies Ltd. in order to increase its presence in Western Canada and expand its enterprise mobile computers, barcode scanner, RFID and wireless network capabilities (May).
- Barcoding Inc bought Miles Technologies Inc. for an undisclosed amount in a move to increase its presence in the central US (May).
- General Data Company, a leading manufacturer and provider of barcode identification, tracking and data management products and solutions sought to expand its healthcare solutions offerings and acquired Triangle Biomedical Sciences Inc. (TBS), a leading manufacturer and supplier of instrumentation, reagents and consumables for the clinical and research pathology market (May).
- Datamax-O’Neil acquired the thermal printer assets of Source Technologies, a leading provider in specialized printing solutions (May).
- Telenor acquired Liquid Barcodes, the largest provider of mobile coupons in Norway, to strengthen its focus on coupons, value codes and loyalty solutions. Along with the company Valuecodes, in which Telenor has a controlling 51% stake, Telenor will become the leading mobile coupon player in Norway and have a strong foundation for further expansion (March).
Barcode vendors will learn to “accessorize” – More barcode hardware players will actively look to enter [or further entrench themselves in] the “accessories” market – developing sleds and/or sleeves with barcode scanner, payment acceptance or other features that support consumer-grade device usage in retail, healthcare and enterprise environments.
Update: Starting with a large number of vendor products announced and on display at NRF, it was clear in January that “accessorizing with AutoID” was central to many product development strategies. Buoyed by the expanding BYOD trend and focus on lowering total cost of ownership (TCO), several vendors such as Griffin Technology and Honeywell have released new sleeves and sleds suited for enterprise, retail and/or healthcare environments.
Future with mobility, not without in [barcode label generation software] market – An increasing number of barcode printing software providers will extend label printing support to portable devices (both purpose-built and consumer-grade) – facilitating mobile applications such as field sales, field service and direct store delivery (DSD).
Update: We give ourselves partial credit on this prediction as the products and capabilities to support mobile printing are available, however, end-user usage of mobile print commands managed and sent from consumer devices remains in the nascent stage. At this point in the year, most barcode label generation software and barcode printer vendors have announced support (i.e., drivers, firmware) for leading mobile operating systems such as iOS and Android. In our 2013 conversations so far, remote print management and mobile device support remain key software development areas. In fact, expect a leading barcode label generation software vendor to announce enhanced mobile device support as part of a major new product launch in early October.
Embracing the tech-savvy consumer – Scanning with and displaying barcodes on mobile device screens will continue to grow significantly among consumers. We predict more QSRs (quick service restaurants), convenience stores, restaurants, theme parks/ entertainment venues and other consumer-facing enterprises will invest in and deploy barcode imagers and consumer-grade mobile devices to interact with consumers (e.g., coupon redemption, payment, loyalty/rewards programs).Update: This prediction was likely going to come true; however, the quick pace of adoption and strategy migration has taken vendors (and us) by surprise. For example, 2D imager adoption remains strong through three quarters with growth outpacing all other barcode product categories, especially in retail sectors. Providing examples of business strategies focused on targeting and serving consumers armed with smartphones are supermarket chain Giant and Stop and Shop, drugstore chain CVS, and Australia’s eRX to name a few. In addition, according to their Q2 2013 Trend Report, ScanLife processed over 7 million scans in consecutive months for the first time ever, users tend to scan over 3x per month on average (a 22% increase from a year ago) and scanning from tablets has increased by a whopping 1300% from Q2 2012.