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Printer market climbs out of slump

Printer market climbs out of slump

The latest quarterly figures (for Q3 2009, ending 30 September) show local printer shipments have rebounded to draw close to levels last recorded in the Q3 quarter in 2008.

Shipped units declined from 20,441 in the third quarter of 2008 to a five-quarter low of 13,247 in the second quarter of 2009. However, IDC figures show they rose to 18,685 in Q3 2009.

IDC peripherals analyst Ariki Pearson says the recession had a big impact on the printer market last year, but the decline in shipments in the first two quarters of 2009 can also be attributed to a continued decline in the inkjet and single-function categories.

“In these categories, customers were price sensitive this year and last year,” he says.

Consumers have drifted towards laser and multifunction devices as prices fall, with a perception these devices are more valuable, says Pearson.

He says the single-function laser market was the worst affected by last year’s recession.

“The biggest thing we saw last year was businesses being cost sensitive and trying to achieve cost efficiencies. That included all sorts of IT hardware.”

Although laser printer units surpassed Q3 2008 levels at just below 14,000, inkjet printers failed to recover as well, posting about 4500 units shipped.

Overall, revenue also made a recovery of $1.48 million to $7.27m from Q1 to Q3 2009, but was well down on the $10.1 million achieved in Q3 2008.

The sub-$67 price band was most popular locally, making up 33 percent of shipments for the quarter, following by models costing between $135 and $200 at 24 percent.

Pearson says falling prices have been particularly evident at the low end of the market.

“It’s hard to get any cheaper than they have been. In some cases printers have been selling so low it’s hard to work out how it would be profitable. That’s where consumables revenue is becoming really important.”

The local laser and inkjet multifunction categories were two that achieved quarterly growth after falling away at the end of 2008, and in quarter two of 2009, respectively.

According to IDC’s statistics, laser multifunction shipments rebounded to levels comparable to Q4 2007, at about 7300 units, having sunk to an eight quarter low of 5784 units in the first quarter of 2009.

Revenue made a similar recovery in this market, up to about $43.2 million, compared with $47 million in Q4 2007. In the first quarter of 2009 revenue in this category had dropped to $27.7 million.

Although the performance of the category is improving, with quarter on quarter shipment growth of 4.4 percent, shipments were still down 11 percent year on year, while revenue grew 32 percent quarterly, but also remained down 11 percent year on year.

In the inkjet multifunction versus inkjet single function printer market in Q3 2009, multifunction devices held steady at about 90 percent of the inkjet market.

The inkjet multifunction market was another to experience a year on year unit shipment and revenue fall, with drops of 26 percent in units and 30 percent in revenue. However, it too showed quarter on quarter improvement of three percent in shipments and 16 percent in revenue.

IDC expects local unit shipments to have been “reasonably buoyant” in the fourth quarter of last year and the first quarter of this year. However, the first quarter could reflect a quieter period of holiday trading, says Pearson.

However, he expects the market will start to build again in the second half of 2010.


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