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RFID Market Reaches $7.67 Billion in 2012, Up 17 Percent from 2011

July 17, 2012 By Raghu Das, CEO, IDTechEx
The latest RFID market research from IDTechEx finds that, in 2012, the value of the entire RFID market will be $7.46 billion, up from $6.37 billion in 2011. This includes tags, readers and software/services for RFID cards, labels, fobs and all other form factors. It includes passive and active RFID. Detailed forecasts are now available in the recently updated “RFID Forecasts, Players and Opportunities 2012-2022.”
In many applicational sectors, RFID orders are up 10 percent—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, we find that military spending on RFID is 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 vs. 2.93 billion in 2011. Most of that growth is from passive UHF RFID labels, however, at that frequency suppliers are still barely profitable so far.
2012 Revenue by Component Type ($ billion)
Source: IDTechEx, “RFID Forecasts, Players and Opportunities 2012-2022”
Cumulative Progress to 2012
At the start of 2012, the cumulative number of RFID tags sold over the last 65 years was 15.1 billion. Some 20 percent 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.


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