2006:THE YEAR OF COLOR PRINTERS
2006:THE YEAR OF COLOR PRINTERS
2006-12-28 at 2:04:00 pm #17331
2006: the year of color printers
If there was one common theme that came up when talking to the various major printer vendors about what happened in 2006 in the printer market, it was that this year was the year of color.
“[In 2006] we saw rapid growth of color, in particular to small businesses who want to create their own professional looking color documents. And price points have fallen [where] it has become possible for a business who previously couldn’t afford to buy a color laser printer,” said Jean-Paul Desmarais, marketing manager business printing with Hewlett Packard (HP) Canada and added that the color laser printer market saw tremendous growth this year.Brad Hughes, a research analyst with IDC Canada, noted that the color laser market grew about 88 per cent this year and predicts around a 60 per cent growth for 2007. “Prices have come down quite a bit and people see value, communication-wise, of using color laser [printers] than inkjet as it is less intensive,” said Hughes.Carolyn Varady, product marketing analyst of imaging systems group with Canon Canada, added that people understand the concept that color helps improve recognition but the issue is explaining to IT professionals and office administrators how color is easy to implement into their workflow.”People are scared of the cost runaway of color but there are a lot of different ways to limit who has access to color and also teach them how bringing color in-house is a lot more cost-effective than sending it out,” she said.When it comes to color laser multi-function printers (MFPs), Hughes noted that HP led the market in the retail and the small- and medium-sized business space with about 21,000 units shipped in Canada during the first three quarters of the year. Xerox, Ricoh, Brother and Canon followed closely behind HP.The only category that HP didn’t lead in units shipped during 2006 was monochrome laser MFPs, where 880,000 units where shipped during the first three quarters of 2006.”It is a very fast growing market and [Brother] has seen 14 consecutive quarters of growth as businesses replaces its printers with MFPs. This is an upswing in that market [and] a nice place to be, if concentrating on it,” said Hughes.The movement towards MFPs and all-in-one units was another big trend that most of the printer vendors took notice this year.”[We've] seen definite progression of individuals and consumers buying all-in-ones instead of single function technology,” said Natalia Case, category business manager for consumer inkjet printers of HP Canada.Hughes added that the single-function printer inkjet market is steadily declining with inkjet color MFPs taking over with about 550,000 units being shipped for the first three quarters of this year. HP dominated this category with about 51 per cent market share followed by Canon at about 24 per cent and then Lexmark at about 12 per cent.”18 months ago the shipments of MFPs were equal to that of single-function printers. Now we are seeing twice as many MFPs as single function printers being sold in the inkjet realm in the last couple of quarters. The price points of MFPs have come down where there is a $20 difference between a printer and a MFP so why not move up and get the extra functionality,” said the IDC analyst.Andrew Kiss, manager of marketing communications with Lexmark Canada Inc. said the growth he’s seen in the all-in-one market is staggering.”[One of] the reasons is we wind up with more small offices wanting to combine technologies and don’t want separate devices,” he added.For 2007, Hughes expects the demand for single-function printers to decline and believes it will become more of a niche product for high-end photography or specialized business tasks.
What else will 2007 bring?
According to the major printer vendors, it is more of the same with all of the companies focusing on bringing products to market that will continue on the trend of color printing and MFPs.”Any manufacturer that wants to remain competitive knows that color is where we are going with all categories of products,” said Marc Ruel, products specialist at Brother Canada.Hughes added that 2007 will be an interesting year for printers due to HP releasing an entry-level color ink machine that is said to rival the speeds of a laser printer.”As far as everything else, inkjet and lower-end laser machines are going to dominate. [Also] a lot of opportunities [exist] when it comes to [helping] customers who want a solution than just a printer. This is where resellers and dealers are going to do well as more money will be spent on services, software and support and not just hardware itself,” he said.