Wireless Printing on the Rise: NPD Report

While sales of wireless printers are picking up, consumers aren't taking full advantage of the technology, a report finds.

Consumers are increasingly making the choice to buy wireless printers, according to the NPD Group's Retail Tracking Service. Since early 2010 more than 50 percent of multifunction printers (MFPs) sold at retail have been wireless, according to NPD's report, which also found that consumers spend an average of 50 percent more on a wirelessly enabled printer than a wired one.
Moreover, tracking of younger consumers suggests the 18- to 34-year-old market segment is using wireless printers to print more often. The report found 30 percent of consumers 18 to 34 years old print more often after getting access to wireless printers than they did before, a number that was about 50 percent higher than consumers 55 and older. In addition, more than 50 percent of them set up their printer to print from multiple devices. So far in 2010, wireless multifunction printers are showing a 44 percent increase in unit volumes according to NPD's Retail Tracking Service.
"There are lots of consumers who want to print, and ones that are extremely mobile find the lack of access to the device to be a major inhibitor," NPD Group Vice President of Industry Analysis Stephen Baker wrote on the company's blog. "Putting that email connectivity on the printer should help those mobile young people, who are increasingly adopting wireless printing, to have better access and opportunity to a printing device and our data shows that can lead to increased printing."
However, while more than half of all printers sold at U.S. retail are wireless-capable, nearly three-quarters of consumers who have access to those printers aren't taking advantage of the increased access to print from multiple devices, according to the company's recent Wireless Printing Study. According to the report, 75 percent of consumers who have a wireless printer said they are printing the same amount as they did before, despite having more devices connected to their printer. They also tend to print the same types of documents as consumers who don't have wireless printers.
"Clearly the ability to print wirelessly from mobile phones and digital cameras exists, but today's wireless printers focus on the PC and miss opportunities to help create a more complete wireless printing ecosystem for consumers," Baker said. "Printer companies have benefited from consumers willing to pay a higher average price for these printers, and we have seen a substantial increase in sales for wireless printers as well. While that's a plus for the short term, the long-term goals are still evolving on how to change consumers' printing habits by enabling a wider range of connected devices to have easy and ubiquitous access to printers."