(RFID World Canada) Interview with Norm McGlaughlin, Director, RFID Products at Labelink.
1. Brief Company Profile
Labelink is a Canadian manufacturer of passive UHF, HF and NFC RFID inlay labels and tags. We partner with industry experts to deliver to the end user, quality inlay labels and tags that perform in a vast range of applications. Operating as a privately owned Canadian company in Montreal, Quebec and Toronto, Ontario since 2004, Labelink has the privilege to be partners with companies such as Unilever, Apotex, Apollo Health, Ciba Vision and Newlyweds Foods in Canada and the United States.
2. When was your company founded and what brought you to NFC technology?
Labelink was founded in 2004, and through the key acquisition of Marnlen RFID, Labelink has become a leading manufacturer of RFID tags and labels in North America, and the primary manufacturer in Canada. Because of the many years of experience in producing and encoding high quality UHF and HF products, the advent of NFC in the RFID landscape was a natural fit for our manufacturing capabilities. NFC labels and tags are converted in the same manner, and with the investments we have made with specialized high speed NFC encoding equipment, we can supply a complete and ready to use NFC label or tag.
3. What are some major challenges that NFC technology will be able to address in the near future?
NFC has the capability to link consumers to an experience by eliminating one or more steps in any given process. Let’s think about how hard it is right now for marketers to get a user to click through banner ads, or to use QR codes to get any traction to all the work they do behind the scenes to create a unique or practical experience for their customers. NFC has the capability to eliminate many steps in the process to make those experiences accessible in a very simple manner for the consumer. With today’s consumer being ever more mobile and having more options than ever with what their mobile experience can be, to make the experience simple, fun and easy to use, NFC is really the only medium that can make this occur.
4. Where are we in the life-cycle of NFC investing and development?
We are still very early in the life-cycle. Brands and developers are continuing to figure out how to use the technology in the best way, while working to achieve positive ROI. Any new technology tends to have higher price point due to manufacturers wanting to capture margin from novelty, as well as higher costing due to lower run quantities. But there is no doubt in my mind, that adoption of the technology will increase and escalate, as pricing starts to become more cost effective with production costs decrease.
5. Do you see any specific industries or geographic markets that will propel demand in NFC technology over the next 3 years?
From an NFC consumables perspective, we are currently targeting markets that have heavy links to consumer mobile advertising. This includes traditional print and magazine. NFC could give a needed lift to these markets by providing an additional method to link the mobile consumer. Geography wise, markets that are heavily invested in mobile, primarily in emerging markets where mobile has made a technological leap over older technologies, will see strong NFC adoption. North America will continue to be a thought leader in this space, and we should see some expansion of NFC through mobile payment applications.
6. How do you see the entire NFC market shaping out over the next few years? How big is this market opportunity?
As developers and brands figure out the best way to use NFC technology, we anticipate a slow growth over the next year, with rapid growth in the next 3 to 5 years. The growth rate could increase exponentially if one California based mobile phone manufacturer decides to get on board with the technology as well. This alone could be inhibiting the growth, as users want to see how the industry leader moves forward with the technology. That being said, this has not stopped the other manufactures from moving ahead, and with their market share increasing year over year, this may not be an issue in the next couple of years. But the opportunity is truly massive (double digit billions), when you look at all of the trickle down effects of the technology and the different skill sets needed to make an implementation successful.