One trend that I’ve been seeing with barcode scanner manufacturers is offering end-users the ability to affordably upgrade devices to enable PDF and 2D bar code scanning—at the time of purchase or as scanning needs evolve. How is this achieved without having to purchase additional hardware (i.e. new barcode scanners)?
By providing licensing options and “locking” certain features, manufacturers can control the out-of-the-box feature set of their hardware offerings. For example, both Janam and Honeywell provide barcode readers at a certain, lower price point. These readers are for typical scanning applications that require simple 1D bar code functionality. If a year or so goes by and a particular end user’s requirements change due to growth or picking up a new customer who now requires 2D barcode scanning, that end user can continue to use their existing scanners---but they will pay a fee for licensing that will “unlock” or upgrade to the 2D feature as the need arises.
This new trend results in lower manufacturing costs, a reduction in inventory and number of products, and hence a reduction in marketing costs. In short, it cuts out some redundancies and increases profits. Of course, the other side of the coin has the potential of decreasing profits over the long run—the licensing option will almost certainly result in less hardware purchases from some end-users, who may have otherwise simply upgraded to new hardware.
What about the possible ramifications for end users? When requirements change and the need to upgrade arises, will end users be grateful that they only have to pay for licensing to unlock features, or will they feel they’ve already made the purchase, and are being taken advantage of? I suppose this depends on the end-user, their perception of their existing hardware, and the actual cost of upgrading vs. paying to unlock features.
With a lot of companies currently in a “hold” pattern on making technology purchases, this “future-proofing” option will hopefully translate into more sales, and help boost confidence with making technology purchases.