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RFID matures, reaches $10bn in 2015

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RFID is thriving, reaching total sales of $10,1-billionbn in 2015 with a large scope ahead for continued roll-out in many established markets and growth in new markets.
However, companies must consider their positioning as many new players enter the market while the value chain consolidates, finds IDTechEx Research in the new detailed report, “RFID Forecasts, Players, Opportunities 2016-2026” which covers the entire industry.
The study found that 38% of the 2015 market value is for the tags themselves, with a total of 9,1-billion tags sold in 2015, up from 7,8-billion tags in 2014. That is across all the main RFID frequencies, and for passive and active RFID.
A significant part of that growth is attributed to the growing implementation of passive UHF RFID tags (also now known as RAIN RFID, the alliance set-up last year to promote the technology). UHF RFID is being widely adopted for tagging apparel, with 3,75-billion tags used for that application alone in 2015 versus 3-billion in 2014. In 2015, that represents less than 15% of the total addressable market for retail apparel which is but one of many applications.
For shorter range HF RFID, business is growing as banks move to secure RFID cards enabling contactless payment – with just under 2-billion being sold for that and other contactless card applications in 2015. NFC is part of HF RFID too, being backwardly compatible with other HF RFID standards.
In 2015, NFC tag sales excluding payment and personal ID applications will amount to 230-million units, used in applications such as tagging computer game figures and setting up Bluetooth pairing of consumer electronic devices. In RFID niche markets can be large by volume and highly profitable.
However, the continued growth has resulted in many new entrants and companies are having to carefully consider their positioning in order to be best placed as the business grows. For example, IDTechEx Research, which has studied the RFID sector since 1999, has profiled more than 150 RFID companies in China, grabbing market share in some areas such as RFID inlay manufacture.
Tag and reader hardware companies are staking claims in software platform offerings – some half-heartedly, others more robustly, trying to face the challenge of moving from a horizontal product offering into software which, at an applicational level, often needs to be built with the vertical application needs in mind.
Despite the growth there are still only a handful of companies with more than $100 million in RFID sales, but several moving into that category. There is much to play for, and much opportunity to lose too for those ill positioned.