According to a new RFID sector survey (RFID Forecasts, Players and Opportunities 2014-2024) by IDTechEx Research, the RFID market will increase from $6.98 billion in 2012 to $7.88 billion, and will reach $23.4 billion in 2020. This includes tags, readers and software/services for RFID cards, labels, fobs and all other form factors—for both passive and active RFID.
The market for RFID has grown steadily despite the economic meltdown due to the diverse nature of its applications from tagging retail apparel to transport ticketing to animals. Historically and today, governments have driven most RFID orders as they improve efficiency (transit systems), safety (passport tagging) and protect industries (animal tagging).
Since 2000, there has been a strong push to use passive RFID to improve supply chain visibility, with a wide range of investment in new RFID technologies, new standards and much publicity. Inevitably, as with most new technologies, aspects were over-hyped and demand not in sync with capacity, but as we entered 2010 the industry emerged from the hype cycle and over the following years until now, has entered a period of rapid growth and profitability for some. There are different rates of growth for different applications and many challenges, and opportunities still exist. In total, IDTechEx finds that 5.9 billion tags will be sold in 2013 versus 4.8 billion in 2012.
The last five years has seen consolidation throughout the value chain in passive UHF RFID with some companies emerging in true phoenix-from-ashes style. This is mainly driven by one application—retail apparel—which demanded 2.25 billion RFID labels in 2013. As in most emerging technology, there will be blips along the way, such as the current UHF RFID litigation. But IDTechEx does not believe this is a show stopper—no-one makes money then.
After apparel tagging, passive UHF is deployed in many different application areas for asset tracking and other applications. These are small volumes in their own right, but add up to hundreds of millions of tags per year given the strong payback they give users. IDTechEx Research expected 3.1 billion passive UHF RFID tags to be sold in 2013.