According to a survey by information technology research firm Gartner, the worldwide combined printer, copier and multifunctional printer shipments market totaled 51.3 million units in the first half of 2009, a 20.2 percent decline over first half of 2008 shipments. The report found while not a single region was spared the downward trend, the emerging regions of Eastern Europe, Middle East and Latin America were the worst hit, as shipments declined 41.8 percent, 28 percent and 22.9 percent, respectively, in the first half of 2009.
"The market witnessed a weak demand as both businesses and consumers reduced spending, and the drop in shipments was also impacted by tighter inventory controls in order to minimize inventory levels in the channels," said Gartner senior research analyst Lai-Ling Lam. "The situation was further exacerbated by the shortages of popular low-end inkjets and page printers to home, small businesses, and small and medium businesses [SMBs]."
Office printing devices fueled the overall decline in the global print market, with a 24.5 percent decrease in the first half of 2009. The consumer ink-jet products were less impacted by the global economic downturn, declining 17.3 percent in the first half of 2009. Despite cautious consumer spending, there are opportunities as demand for wireless ink-jets buoyed the consumer market.
"In this tough economic environment, businesses are delaying or eliminating purchases of new equipments altogether. The global downturn has also forced them to review their printing needs, which could change their print consumptions in the long term," said Lam. "At the same time, it also makes print vendors increasingly look at alternative hardware strategies such as managed print service [MPS] and smart MFP adoption as ways to increase revenue."
From a vendor perspective, Hewlett-Packard dropped at a faster pace than the overall market. The company lost 3.4 percentage points in market share to total 40 percent market share in the first half of 2009 as it maintained a tighter control over its channel inventory levels amidst weakening demand. "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 percent in the first half of 2009," said Lam.
Lam said despite signs that the world economy is improving, there are no indications that the worldwide print market is going to see improvement in the second half of 2009. Lam said a best-case scenario would see some improvement in demand, loosening in inventory control and fulfillment of back orders, which would uplift the market and end the year with a single-digit decline. However, she added they do not expect the market to recover before 2010.