Sluggish Printer, MFP Market in Western Europe, But Business Ink-Jet Gains Steam

Market-research firm International Data Corporation has reported that shipments of printers and MFPs tumbled 12.1 percent in the first quarter in Western Europe, with particularly sharp declines in the consumer market. First-quarter shipments declined to 5.8 million units, compared to 6.6 million units a year ago. Revenue also declined 5.3 percent to $2.9 billion, down from $3.1 billion in first-quarter 2011. An interesting finding, however, is shipments of business ink-jet units grow noticeably stronger (see below).

In its research, IDC counts hardware peripherals as those that can print on from A2 (16.5″x 23.4″) to A3 (11″x17″)  to A4 (8.5″x11.5″) media, consisting of single-function printers, printer-based MFPs, and single-function digital copiers. The data is reported in IDC’s  Worldwide Quarterly Hardcopy Peripherals Tracker, May 2012.

IDC’s Phil Sargeant points out that overall demand in both the consumer and business markets remains subdued, reflecting unstable political and economic climates in many countries in Western Europe, with minimal GDP growth expected for 2012.

Consumer Ink-Jet Hit Hard, But Business Ink-Jet Gains Steam

The biggest decline in Western Europe in the first quarter came in the consumer ink-jet market, which experienced the heaviest declines in shipments, 16.6 percent, while business ink-jet shipments showed strong growth – 26.3 percent, accounting for 12.6 percent of the total ink-jet market, with installations of higher-speed ink-jet systems up 21.4 percent versus a year ago. Indeed, business ink-jets units accounted for one in five of the combined laser and business ink-jet market, which represents most of the office-products market.

In the laser market, color laser unit shipments continued to grow, and now account for a third of all laser shipments in Western Europe.

Country Highlights

Germany – Germany, the largest market in Western Europe, saw a decline in most segments, with shipments declining 13.6 percent to 1.51 million units, compared to 1.74 million units a year ago. As with previous quarters, it was the consumer ink-jet market that saw demand decline the most, with shipments declining 22.7 percent, while the momentum for business ink-jet products continued, with strong growth of 25.5 percent versus the same period a year ago. The laser market, however, stalled, but there were some positive signs for 2012 as both A4 and A3 color laser shipments increased, though even these bright spots were tempered due to negative growth of monochrome laser shipments and continuing negative demand from home consumers.

United Kingdom – The U.K. continued its course from fourth-quarter 2011, as it bucked the trend and remained the second-largest market in Western Europe, with 1.06 million units shipped. This, however, was a decline of 6.7 percent, and the only real growth market was again in the business ink-jet market, which grew 28.4 percent, in line with other main markets and the European average. Color laser shipments remained flat, while monochrome shipments saw a sharp decline of 16.9 percent. Serial impact dot matrix (SIDM) shipments experienced a surprising growth rate of 17.9 percent, and high-speed ink-jet shipments increased, but generally the market for the U.K. in first-quarter 2012 was subdued.

France – Shipments in France dipped below 1 million units in first-quarter 2012,  but this was only a decline of 4.0 percent, which is the lowest rate of all the Western European countries. In contrast, revenues in France actually increased 4.7 percent, largely due to increases in some of the mid- and high-speed color and monochrome laser markets. Consumer ink-jet shipments declined by 8.0 percnet, but not by as much as in other countries, and business ink-jet shipments saw stronger growth of 29.9 percent. Color laser shipments grew 4.9 percent due to strong MFP shipments, and monochrome shipments showed a minimal decline of 1.7 percent.

For more information about IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Hardcopy Peripherals Tracker in EMEA, contact Arnaud Gagneux (

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