Report: Global RFID Market Hit $5 Billion in 2007

RFID sales around the world hit $5 billion last year, a figure significantly pushed by a $2 billion investment in China's chipped national ID card, according to a report this week from U.K.-based RFID analysis firm IDTechEx.

That Chinese national ID card program "made China the biggest RFID market but if we peel that away, we see the USA as the biggest market," said IDTechEx CEO Raghu Das, who added that China's RFID numbers are projected to stay high, even though much of the ID investment is now past.

"This tells us that 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. They are hugely varied from pigs to mail bags and the prospect of having to tag 150 million pet dogs and 2.4 billion pigs yearly by law. Maybe the 37.5 billion cigarette packets produced every year will be RFID tagged,"

The new figures show strength in RFID activity that is truly global, with the report finding 509 new RFID projects last year, bringing the examined RFID efforts to 3,096 projects in 101 countries involving 4,231 organizations.

"Those newly recorded projects represented 20 percent growth in the size of the database, reflecting the rapid growth of the market way beyond the Chinese ID card," Das said. "We could have added more than 500 more consumer goods companies mandated by retailers to tag pallets and cases but that would be living a lie because most of these are doing little or nothing in the face of the huge financial cost and lack of payback if they comply. Their usage averaged less than 300,000 tags each and those were purchased at prices nearer to ten cents than the $5 of passport tags and $50 or more for most active tags."

The study also found that the more expensive and more sophisticated active tags faring quite well. "A remarkable 32 percent of projects added in 2007 involved active RFID, taking the cumulative figure to 22 percent," Das said. "Little wonder that more than 20 percent of both RFID fund raisings and RFID acquisitions in 2007 involved companies somewhere in the active RFID value chain."