Value of RFID market to reach $7.67bn in 2012

The market has risen by 17% from 2011 largely due to the growth in passive UHF systems for tagging clothes and closed loop applications, according to an IDTechEx report

Value of RFID market to reach $7.67bn in 2012

The value of the entire RFID market will be $7.46bn (£4.78bn), up from $6.37bn (£4.08bn) in 2011, according to new market research by IDTechEx. This includes tags, readers and software/services for RFID cards, labels, fobs and all other form factors. It includes passive and active RFID. 

IDTechEx’s recently updated RFID Forecasts, Players and Opportunities 2012-2022 report profiles over 200 companies in the sector. It notes that in many applicational sectors, RFID orders are up 10% - some much more. Primarily this is due to growth of passive UHF systems for tagging apparel and many closed loop applications. 

It is also driven by governments doing two things. Increasingly, they make it a legal requirement to fit RFID, recent examples being on animals in New Zealand and Europe. 

Secondly they come up with huge sums of money to buy RFID. This varies from local governments committing to non-stop road tolling and library tagging to national governments increasingly buying national ID cards, passports and other forms of RFID. However, the report found that military spending on RFID was down from previous highs. 

In retail, RFID is seeing rapid growth for apparel tagging - this application alone demands 1 billion RFID labels in 2012, with 1.35 billion tags forecast for 2013. RFID in the form of tickets used for transit will demand 500 million tags in 2012. 

In total, 3.98 billion tags will be sold in 2012 versus 2.93 billion in 2011. Most of that growth is from passive UHF RFID labels (pictured), however, at that frequency suppliers are still barely profitable so far. The research shows that 2012 revenue by component type (US$bn) is as follows:

Tags: Passive - $3.13bn (£2bn)

Tags: Active/Battery Assisted Passive - $0.42bn (£0.26bn)

Interrogators (incl.cellphones) - $1.92bn (£1.23bn)

Networking, Software, Services - $2.2bn (£1.41bn)

At the start of 2012, the cumulative number of RFID tags sold over the last 65 years was 15.1 billion. Twenty per cent of that number were sold in 2011. In many sectors, particularly airline baggage and post, UHF RFID demand has failed to live up to expectations – by a long way. 

For several years capacity has far exceeded demand and those involved in UHF passive RFID tag manufacture are still not profitable over the term of their investment in the topic. This led to a significant amount of consolidation from 2007-2009, particularly of UHF tag manufacture. In contrast, most of the companies involved in passive HF tag supply are profitable. 

However, from 2011 onwards there has been strong growth in passive UHF tag demand with Impinj, Avery Dennison and others emerging as leaders. Others such as Smartrac have been acquiring companies creating a large RFID business. IDTechEx predict that the RFID market will grow steadily over the next decade, rising four-fold in that period to $26.19bn (£16.79bn) in 2022.

Written by Wireless magazine
Wireless magazine

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