Sun Eyes RFID Centers for Taiwan, JapanBy Jacqueline Emigh | Posted 03-30-2005
Sun Microsystems Inc. is now looking to launch radio-frequency identification customer centers in Taiwan, Japan and Europe, now that similar centers are already underway for RFID users in Korea, Singapore and the United States.
Sun chose Dallas as the site of its first RFID center in order to be able to work with Tier 1 distributors for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., said Sam Liu, director of RFID product management for Sun.
But outside of the United States, Sun is teaming with partners that have "domain and country expertise," Liu said.
In February, for instance, Sun announced plans to open an RFID lab in Singapore together with Neptune Orient Lines Group. Earlier this month, the vendor rolled out an RFID center in Busan, South Korea, to be operated in conjunction with Busan University.
Sun is also eyeing additional centers for Asiain Taiwan and Japanas well as for Europe, Liu said.
But interest in RFID is particularly strong in Asia right now, Liu said. Asians are ascribing a number of different roles to RFID.
Some see RFID as a potential technological differentiator for port cities in Asia, according to Liu. Others seek to develop technology products for export in the RFID category. Meanwhile, many Asian-based manufacturing firmsboth within and outside the computer industryneed to use RFID in order to meet the mandates of U.S. retailers.
Wal-Mart is a major buyer of goods from China, Liu said. The retail giant's Chinese distributors run the gamut from "unknown OEMs [to] producers of clothing, bicycles, and [home] electronics."
In Korea, well-known manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics Inc. are also Wal-Mart distributors, he pointed out.
The Korean government considers RFID to be a "game-changing event," Liu said.
In conjunction with Busan University, Sun will help Korea build RFID-enabled port facilities for the city of Busan. Roughly 130 percent larger than Sun's RFID Test Center in Dallas, the site in Korea will also encompass an outdoor area for testing RFID technology on shipping containers.
Universities perform different functions in Asia than in the United States, according to Liu.
"Universities [in Asia] have more than just educational [and] research purposes. Universities are an active part of a lot of government initiatives. Universities also take a fairly big role in business," he said.