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If we’ve learned one thing following the barcode hardware and consumables markets for the past several decades it’s this: these niche technology markets are stable and predictable. The B2B nature of these markets insulates suppliers from fickle consumers, and the dramatic gains and losses that seem to play out on a quarterly basis in consumer technology markets. And we like it that way.
But one technology segment we follow began swimming against long established growth trajectories in the 2008/2009 timeframe, when investments in virtually all of the technologies we cover contracted significantly. Demand for 2D imagers, in virtually every form factor, vertical market and use environment we follow, outpaced competing data capture technologies during this challenging period.
We all knew there was a story there, and suppliers were likening the market conditions driving demand for 2D imagers to a perfect storm. Declining prices, enhanced scanning performance, the proliferation of 2D symbologies throughout the supply-chain (and increasingly embedded in personal ID’s), not to mention mobile barcodes made us all pretty comfortable forecasting 2010 growth rates in the 20% range.
Now that we have collected and aggregated 2010 unit shipment data from the suppliers, we’re finding that demand for 2D imaging technology has met or exceeded our guidance in virtually every segment we follow. Further, we expect 2D imaging will continue to garner a growing portion of the data capture technology spend as the illustration below suggests.
Clearly, displacement of competing data capture technologies is part of the story, but laser scanners and linear imagers will also grow throughout the forecast period, albeit at a slower rate. So where’s the rest of this demand expected to come from?
• Application extensions at the point of sale and upstream that extend the value of an imaging investment?
• Convergence with other AIDC technologies ranging from vision systems to RFID, ultimately enhancing imaging’s value proposition?
• Field upgradable products that enable deploying enterprises to support their current and future requirements?
Absolutely. All of these factors are in play, and we’re excited by all the innovation we’re seeing in the market place as hardware suppliers, ISV’s and system integrators continue to find new applications for this promising technology.