No upturn in sight for troubled printer market

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No upturn in sight for troubled printer market

Paul Kunert

All of the major printer vendors saw declines in global shipments during the first half of the year and there are no signs the recovery feted for other sectors will materialise in the second half.

During the first six months of 2009 the market dived more than 20% and not one region was "spared the downward trend" said analyst Gartner.

"In this tough economic environment, businesses are delaying or eliminating purchases of new equipment altogether," said Lai-Ling Lam, Gartner senior analyst.

"The global downturn has also forced them to review their printing needs which could change their print consumptions in the long term," she said.

This is forcing vendors and their partners to seek out alternative hardware strategies including managed print services and Smart MFP adoption to replace lost revenues, a trend the analyst predicted earlier this year.

Tighter control of inventory management was also contributing to the decline in global shipments which was "further exacerbated by the shortages of popular low-end inkjets and page printers to home, small businesses and SMEs" said Lam.

Recent indications suggest the global economy is healing but Gartner had no such positive prognosis for printer sales.

"A best case scenario will see some improvement in demand, loosening in inventory control and fulfilment of back orders which would uplift the market, ending the year with a single-digit decline," said Gartner.

"However, we do not expect the market to recover before 2010," added Lam.

The biggest casualty of low spending was HP, the clear market leader, which saw a 26.4% decline in sales take its market share to 40% down from 43.4% a year ago.

Gartner said HP "maintained a tighter control over its channel inventory levels amidst weakening demand", an issue that the vendor had pointed to earlier in the year when it had been caught out with higher than expected levels of stock.

In second spot, Canon fared better as sales fell 9.8%, "HP's loss was Canon's gain which had stable performance in Americas and Asia Pacific, helping it to increase its market share to 19% in the first half of 2009".

Epson, Brother and Samsung - the third, fourth and fifth biggest selling vendors - saw their shipments fall

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