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Focus shifts to print services as hardware shipments slump

Billy MacInnes

Pressure on vendors and channel partners to diversify into print managed services is expected to intensify in the wake of a huge slump in shipments of printer, copier and multifunction products (MFPs).

The steep fall in shipments has been thrown into stark relief with figures from Gartner showing the market for printer, copier and MFPs in EMEA dropped by almost a quarter in the first half of 2009.

Gartner's numbers were supported by HP's recent third quarter results which showed a 23% fall in overall printer unit shipments, including a massive 42% decline in commercial printer unit shipments.

Worse still, the market research company predicted shipments would continue to experience a double-digit decline in the second half of the year that could reach 30%.

Todd Prabhakar, senior analyst at Gartner said vendors were looking at areas such as managed print services and document-managed software to try and increase revenue in the face of customer reluctance to spend money on new equipment.

"Vendors must sell services to businesses that will help them better control costs, save on running costs, reduce cost-per-page issues and consolidate devices," he argued.

Prabhakar's comments are likely to be endorsed by vendors in the print and copier world as they have become increasingly interested in managed print services.

Back in March, HP IPG channel development manager Alan Hatfield revealed it was aiming for 60% growth across EMEA for managed print services and the UK would achieve 30%. Lexmark UK channel sales director Marcus Harvey agreed it was "a key area for us" and Martin Tierney, UK services director at Kyocera Mita, said managed print services was "definitely the way to go".

According to Gartner, the vendors worst affected by the global recession were Hewlett-Packard and Canon, which suffered market share falls of 31.5% and 25.8% respectively.

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