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9/30/2004
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Partnerships Abound At RFID Conference

Sun and Texas Instruments were among the companies saying they could do more with allies during the EPC Global conference.

The EPC Global U.S. Conference 2004 in Baltimore was a showcase for several vendor radio-frequency identification announcements. Whether it was a new product or a new partnership, vendors showed support for the growing RFID market and continue to make investments in the technology.

This week, Sun Microsystems tried to reach out to independent software vendors, independent hardware vendors, and system integrators companies through its new Java System RFID Software for iForce Partners, an RFID retail-compliance program, and an RFID warehouse-management platform, which combines products and services from Sun, SIS Technologies, and SSA Global.

"Today, RFID is 90% services and 10% components, but we want to move to a world where RFID is 70% components," says Vijay Sarathy, group marketing manager of Sun's RFID unit. "Working with partners will help us give our customers freedom of choice; we want to provide customers with a platform that they can build upon and integrate into their systems."

Texas Instruments Inc. also unveiled a partnership at the conference. TI and BearingPoint Inc. will market products and services to customers in the manufacturing, retail, life-sciences, financial-services, and government sectors. BearingPoint will provide consulting, systems integration, assessment, proof-of-concept, test-management, and program-management services, while TI will sell customers its suite of RFID products. "There are no companies who can do everything on their own, so it is important for us to work with partners," said Anthony J. Sabetti, director of TI's Retail Supply Chain RFID Business, during a presentation on the company's RFID tags. "What we are doing is leveraging expertise to solve problems."

Despite a major focus on partnerships at EPC Global, vendors emphasized the need for global RFID--second-generation technology that goes beyond class 0 and class 1 tags and can comply with international standards.

Intermec Technologies Corp. introduced an IF5 Intelligent RFID reader, certified for use by customers around the world. Intermec said the reader has the ability to filter incoming RFID tag data by performing on-board decision-making, but the reader's rugged quality also allows it to host application software and control external devices. IF5 also complies with the new ETSI radio standard, which means it can operate in Europe as well as in the United States. Tom O. Miller, president of Intermec Technologies, said 40% of Intermec's revenue comes from outside the United States.

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