What's in the cards for 2007?
No doubt 2007 will see more cards, with more memory and more features. According to Eurosmart, the total volume of cards delivered in 2007 should reach 3.760 billion, a 14% increase vs. 2006. We will also see these cards having more features and more memory. The MegaSIM memory announced a few years ago will get closer to meeting real-world applications thanks to the agreement on the high speed protocol.
Since its very beginning the concept of multi application card existed in the smart card industry. But the concept has proved difficult to implement because of a lack of standards, and difficulties in finding agreements between different application issuers. The standardization is going forward with the publication of NFC specifications, and the availability of several sources of NFC chips. Many initiatives are already taking place in the beginning of this month of January: Visa launched its Mobile Communication Platform and Nokia unveiled the first NFC-integrated handset.
Contactless technology has reached maturity: it's everywhere. All identity projects involve now contactless technologies, as contactless is an ICAO requirement for passports. Contactless payment is also developing quickly: already 30 million cards are on the field in the USA and contactless projects are emerging all over the world, in Asia and in Europe.
Competition or Concentration?
Smart card manufacturers are in an increasingly competitive environment. The ASP (average selling price) drop in 2006 has put all major industrialists into difficulties. There is no reason why competition would cool down in 2007. Many new entrants in the industry are vying for marketshare, which can only be detrimental to the established industrialists. Some Concentration may happen too. 2006 has seen the realization of the merger between the two leaders of the industry to form Gemalto. The other major industrialists may be tempted to find some Combination or Concentration to reach a better critical mass.
As the smart card industry matures, its executives mature as well. And, as the grass is often greener on the other side of the fence, numerous executives have changed jobs in 2006. This movement can only continue in 2007, giving a stronger industry culture to our growing community.
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