Printer Market Q4 2008: News That Isn't Fit To Print

Once again, the sour economy is blamed for the decrease, as both the consumer and the professional market shunned purchases. In total, combined shipments fell 5.9 percent in 2008, compared with 2.9 percent growth in 2007, researchers at Gartner said.

Worse still, analysts said they don't expect the market to recover until sometime in 2010 as economic uncertainty continues.

"The strong economic recession that is gripping the most mature markets showed its impact on the printer, copier and MFP industry in North America during the fourth quarter," Gartner said in a report released last week. "Businesses put the brakes on major purchases, a trend not likely to improve in the next several quarters."

In North America, deceleration in the professional segment of the market led to a 25.3 percent sales decline of page printers, copiers and MFPs during the quarter, as both businesses and channels slowed purchases.

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Shipments of page printers declined 28.5 percent during the quarter, led by a 29.9 percent drop in monochrome devices and 23.5 percent in color units.

"Some of this volume is clearly coming under pressure from a tight economy, where typical three-year replacement cycles are being extended," Gartner noted.

Color page printer shipments have decreased for three consecutive quarters, Gartner said.

Shipments of page copiers and MFPs declined 20.8 percent during the quarter.

However, Gartner found that the color page copier/MFP segment is continuing to weather the economic storm, and believes that users are seeing the value of consolidating standalone products into MFPs with color printing capabilities.

Gartner also found that shipments of color page copiers/MFPs, driven by A4 products, increased 13.2 percent during the quarter, the third consecutive quarter of growth.

Every single vendor struggled during the quarter, and out of the Top 10, only Samsung, Brother and Ricoh showed growth, ranging from 1 percent to 2 percent.

Hewlett-Packard shipments declined 23.3 percent and suffered a 2 percent market share loss to 40.1 percent.

Canon suffered a 2 percentage point decrease in market share on a 36.5 percent unit shipment decline. Canon's performance was impacted by the loss of business through its longtime channel partner IKON, which represented more than 30 percent of Canon's total business in the U.S. alone, Gartner said.

Lexmark, Kodak and Dell were among the worst-performing vendors Gartner said.