While the world looks to 3D to invigorate print and we see more app-controlled printers enter the market, let’s not forget the workhorses of traditional paper document production.
Laser and inkjet have seen many developments over the years. Laser prices have dropped to allow faster print method in SoHo markets, print control software reducing the waste caused by unwanted duplicates, and then multifunction inkjet taking home photo replication to a whole new level.
We have seen the rise and fall in popularity of clone/refill toners and their ink tank counterparts. The race has very much been to deliver faster print speeds, all-in-one devices and a reduction in the cost per page. If we look back to the recession, it would be no surprise that discretionary printing budgets were under pressure so it meant the life cycle of hardware was extended. The drive for efficiency in print also led to a new wave of print management software which was encapsulated in managed print services (MPS).
“Print as service” meant paying for what you used with more convenient billing methods. The race to find savings also led to increases in digital document management including e-signing. We are far from paperless yet.
Fast innovation While generally the popularity of multifunction inkjets grew as the prices dropped, non-business ink saw a particular drop in 2012 but picked up share in the past couple of years, some of it driven most recently by new technologies such as ink subscription and larger tanks. In 2013 high-speed (print speed of 55 page/min and above) inkjet printers were launched and affected the laser printer market.
The 55+ segment within inkjet printers has gained share and now reaches nearly as much value as within laser. So with innovation in print heads, inkjet business printers are now matching the performance of laser printers and in some cases even performing at faster speeds.
A topic which has grown in importance is the increase in business ink. Business ink is the use of inkjet in SMB and Enterprise products. In the past three years business ink printers have had a value share of 15 to 16 per cent in our GfK Panelmarket (inkjet and laser); this is a significant increase from previous years where the share was in the sub-10 per cent region. As a consequence, laser printers lost share, going from 35 per cent in 2011 to 29 per cent in 2015 (November MAT).
Business ink printers slightly increased in average price in 2015 while laser printers have fallen below the £200 mark for the first time.
So what of today?
The overall print market in the UK has declined in value by -5.5 per cent in the last year up to December (see graph above). Laser declined by -8.9 per cent and inkjet declined by -3.9 per cent in value. Multifunction has the lion’s share of the market, with single function seeing slower but steady declines.
The last point to focus on is the relationship between distributor and reseller (see graph below). Distributors have been bolstering their services in cloud, install, maintenance and customer configuration, thus allowing them to offer subscription to resellers for products such as managed print. These services are becoming more off the shelf and less niche.
As we move further from the recession we will see tech spend rise in agile working, digital documentation, and cloud-enabled workspace, which will all put pressure on non-managed print hardware evolving the market into a high volume at the lower end and potentially lower volume at the higher ASP end.
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