No doubt you've heard about the promising, "can't live without it" future of radio frequency identification tags (RFID)
- streamlined shopping experiences, instantaneous checkouts, interactive payment transactions, etc. For those that haven't, RFID tags (also known as smart tags) are disposable microchips that are set to replace bar codes on most, if not all, product packaging. The official party-line is that the widespread depoyment of RFIDs will result in a number of productivity enhancements to corporate supply and demand chains and an enhanced customer experience. Manufacturers win, suppliers win, customers win, everyone wins... right?
Not likely. What if I told you that there is a chance that RFID tags could make the prices we pay for certain items go up? That is apparently going to be the case with electronics that have replaceable accessories. Since RFIDs can be read wirelessly, electronic equipment can interrogate them to find out a number of interesting tidbits about the host product - manufacturer included. Lexmark, maker of home and office printers and accessories, is currently placing RFID tags on toner cartridges to require consumers to purchase Lexmark-branded replacement toners.
Lexmark recently won a lawsuit
against a generic toner manufacturer, riding the coattails of the much despised DMCA, involving the unauthorized reproduction of Lexmark RFID tag stamps. Lawsuits of this magnitude typically elicit trends. As such, Kodak's next generation cameras will only function properly using Kodak RFID-tagged film. the list is sure to grow... And we all know what happens to prices when a single manufacturer dictates what supporting products are used. Is anyone else smelling antitrust