What factors determine the price?
That really depends, as there are many different types of RFID tags. Active tags have a battery so they can broadcast a signal, and they usually come in a hard plastic case so they can withstand punishment. These tags cost $50 apiece or more. If you add temperature sensors or other types of sensors, the price can increase to more than $100 each. On the other end of the spectrum, a passive inlay can cost about 7 cents in large volumes of 1 million or more.
Even in the passive tag market, there are many variations that affect price. You can buy a tag embedded in a thermal transfer bar-code label, or one designed to be embedded in a plastic container, or used on metal or attached to steel pipes. Each different form factor comes with a different price.
I would say that focusing on price is a mistake, however, as that is not what matters. The more important factor is the value of the benefits delivered, minus the system's cost (in other words, the return on investment). If a tag costs $100 but saves you $1,000, it is worth the investment. If each tag costs a penny but delivers no value, then it is probably not worth investing.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal