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Global RFID Industry Trends from IDTechEx

IDTechEx has identified multiple industry trends based on the number of case studies that exist in its RFID Knowledgebase for the varying applications, vertical industries, and geographies where RFID is being applied. This article summarizes those trends.
Jul 20, 2006This article was originally published by RFID Update.

July 20, 2006—Research firm IDTechEx of Cambridge, UK, recently added the 2,000th RFID case study to its RFID Knowledgebase, a compilation of case studies, press releases, and announcements the company maintains as a vehicle for industry research. Based on the number of case studies that exist for the varying applications, vertical industries, and geographies where RFID is being applied, IDTechEx has inferred some key industry trends, summarized below:

  • Pallet- and case-level tagging is the hottest topic. At just over 300 of the case studies falling in the retail supply chain category of pallet- and case-level tagging, it is the most visible application of RFID.
  • Item-level tagging is a close second. Just after pallet- and case-level tagging is item-level tagging, an RFID application that has seen accelerated (and unexpected) activity in 2006. IDTechEx has actually revised up its projections for item-level tagging given this surprising growth.
  • Twelve RFID application categories rule. After pallet- and case-level tagging and item-level tagging, there are ten more applications for which IDTechEx has collected case study data. They are, from largest to smallest: smart cards (including key fobs), vehicles, e-tickets, conveyance, intermodal containers/ULD, e-passports, clickers/immobilizers, baggage tracking, people, and livestock. For specific numbers on each category, see the graph.
  • Still a card business... but not for long. If the number of cards, key fobs, and e-passports are lumped together as a more general category, the resulting number of case studies is roughly equal to that of pallet- and case-level tagging. However, because RFID tags in smart cards, key fobs, and passports can be ten times more expensive than their supply chain UHF RFID counterparts, there is actually more money being spent in this card category. "For a little longer," according to IDTechEx, "RFID therefore remains basically a card business by value of tags and systems, with lots of new case studies in financial, access, and other cards being added all the time as the world's credit, debit, account, and identification cards gradually move over to RFID for convenience, reliability, and reduced cost of ownership."
  • E-passport business is thriving. With 50 countries around the world involved in RFID-based electronic passport initiatives, it is "truly a global market that came from nowhere". IDTechEx predicts that 25 million RFID passports will be produced this year, a number that will eventually rise to a "lucrative and sustainable" 40 million annually.
  • The internationalization of EPC. Despite some perception that EPCglobal is a US-centric organization, case studies in the knowledgebase suggest otherwise, with EPC-based RFID deployments occurring around the world. IDTechEx is bullish on EPC: "Penetration is rapid and global and this is a huge success story. There is potential for EPC to be used in at least one third of the future RFID market by value." As an aside, many are confident that ISO's recent adoption of Gen2 (see ISO Incorporates Gen2 into RFID Standard) will accelerate this trend.
  • RFID is more global than ever. When the IDTechEx RFID Knowledgebase passed the 1,000 case study mark a year and a half ago, 49 countries were represented. Now that number is 76. The most represented countries are, from most to least: US, UK, Japan, Germany, China, France, Netherlands, Korea, Canada, and Australia.
  • The US share of overall adoption is growing. While it probably does not come as a surprise that the US is seeing the most RFID activity, it may be a surprise that its share of worldwide activity is actually growing. Eighteen months ago, US-based case studies were 20% of the total; now they're 34%. This is particularly notable given the increasing number of countries implementing RFID.

Read the entire article from IDTechEx
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