Highlights from IDTechEx’s Review of RFID in 2007

By Admin

IDTechEx recently published a list of observations about RFID market development in 2007. Many of the statistics are based on the number of projects added last year to the company's RFID Knowledgebase, a collection of RFID deployment case studies from around the world. This article provides highlights.

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This article was originally published by RFID Update.

January 24, 2008—Research firm IDTechEx recently published a list of observations about RFID market development in 2007. Many of the statistics are based on the number of projects added last year to the company's RFID Knowledgebase, a growing collection of RFID deployment case studies and announcements from around the world. Following are selected highlights:

  • The total worldwide RFID market reached $5 billion in 2007, a figure that includes the cost not just of tags and readers, but of all hardware and software.
  • While $5 billion may be an impressive figure, $2 billion of it was due to the national ID program in China, which caused a surge that will subside now that the purchases have largely been made. Another consequence of the ID program is that it made China the largest RFID market in the world. Second largest was the US, which will likely move to first as the Chinese spend on RFID returns to normalized levels.
  • Despite the waning national ID program, IDTechEx views the Chinese market as a robust one. "There are a vast number of new RFID projects in China that will take up the slack now that the glory days of the national ID card are over," reads the analysis. "They are hugely varied from people and construction materials to mail bags and the prospect of having to tag 150 million pet dogs and 2.4 billion pigs yearly by law."
  • Based on 2007 additions to its knowledge base, IDTechEx calculates that the top ten national markets by number of projects (not revenues) were, from largest to smallest: the US, the UK, China, Germany, Japan, France, Australia, the Netherlands, Korea, and Canada.
  • Using a similar analysis, IDTechEx calculates that Financial, Security, and Safety was the largest RFID application category in terms of number of projects. Worldwide growth in e-passports and contactless credit cards were largely to thank for the category's dominance, which was also helped along by RFID tickets and access cards. All told, the category accounted for nearly a fifth of the new RFID applications that went online in 2007. Passenger Transport, Automotive came in second, with 13% of the total. Healthcare saw a bump from 2006. It still represents less than 10% of the total, "but it is clearly becoming increasingly important."
  • Projects that involve the tagging of people grew to 11% of the total in 2007, which suggests that despite bad press and pushback from privacy advocates, human-tagging applications that demonstrate clear safety and security benefits are gaining in popularity. "It may not please the privacy advocates but [RFID] allowed nurses to radio their precise location when they were being assaulted, mother-baby mismatches and baby theft to be reduced, pedophiles to be controlled, prisoner escapes prevented and severe diabetics getting correct treatment before they died in the street," writes IDTechEx. "Should we be ashamed of that?"
  • Active RFID's widely reported adoption growth was also in evidence. Just under a third of all new projects documented by IDTechEx in 2007 -- and now more than a fifth of all projects on record -- involved active RFID technology. IDTechEx also notes how much of the investment and M&A activity in 2007 involved active RFID companies. (RFID Update recorded $165.2 million across 13 deals over the 18 months ending in December, more than any other segment. See RFID & RTLS Sees $433M Invested Over Last 18 Months.)
  • IDTechEx foresees the national ID card in the UK as the largest impending RFID project, which will cost an initial $10 billion but could rise to triple that.
  • High frequency, an older and less "sexy" sector of the RFID market, is not only the leading RFID frequency by number of projects, it is still growing. While many deem the HF market mature and relatively staid, IDTechEx argues the contrary. For one thing, many of the world's largest deployments, like national ID cards, use HF. For another, significant advancements are still occurring in the technology. So bullish is the company on HF, it recently published a report examining the market entitled HF RFID - the Great Leap Forward.
  • The research firm gave high marks to the passive RFID and WiFi RTLS vendor communities for pushing their agendas and being assertive marketers. Vendors from other segments of the RFID market, notably HF, were quiet and modest by comparison. "The passive UHF and WiFi RTLS people publicise even the smallest orders, drive standards (tires, pallets, cases, baggage, etc.) and constantly penetrate even the most obscure applications in far away places," IDTechEx observes. "In general, this is to be commended, and those promoting products at HF and other frequencies could learn from it."

Read the complete article from IDTechEx