For First Time, Inkjet Shipments Surpass Laser in Asia-Pacific; Ink-Tank Outperforms Ink-Cartridge Models

HP Deskjet GT5820 inkjet printer with refillable ink tanks.

According to the latest IDC Asia-Pacific Quarterly Hardcopy Peripherals Tracker, total printer and copier/MFP shipments in the second quarter of 2017 for the Asia-Pacific region excluding Japan (APeJ) was 7.84 million units. Inkjet and laser unit shipments both expanded during the quarter, growing 2.2 percent and 4.9 percent year-over-year (YOY), respectively. And, for the first time, APeJ surpassed the United States  to become the number-one inkjet market in the world in terms of shipment volume. IDC also says there was a strong shift from ink-cartridge to ink-tank inkjet printers and All-in-Ones.

The Peoples Republic of China (PRC) was a strong contributor to APeJ, becoming the top inkjet-printer market in the world, as IDC saw a strong growth in the volume of inkjet shipment from the 6.18 online shopping festival, which posted a 17.8 percent YOY growth versus the same period last year. The shipment volume for laser printers continue to stay strong in the PRC market, according to the rapid expansion of the small and mid-size business (SMB) segment.

On the other hand, the Southeast Asia sub-region, which currently contributes the highest inkjet shipment volume in APeJ, continued to see a strong shift from ink-cartridge to ink-tank printers in the second quarter of 2017. IDC says this shift was brought upon by the low-cost per page benefit of ink-tank printers, and aggressive promotions from vendors. In fact, in the second quarter of 2017, the ink-tank to ink-cartridge ratio had reached an all-time high and had finally crossed the 50 percent mark to make Southeast Asia “a truly ink-tank dominant market.”

On the other hand, India suffered a decline in both inkjet and laser shipments in the second-quarter of 2017, declining by 6.8 percent and 3.8 percent YOY, respectively. IDC says that this was largely due to the market’s apprehension of the GST (Goods and Services Tax) implementation. There was a high level of de-stocking in the channels, where they refused to take in any further shipment from vendors in order to avoid a high level of leftover stock when the GST gets implemented.

Yexi Liao, market analyst for IDC Asia/Pacific’s Image Printing and Document Solutions (IPDS) team, commented: “Taking over U.S.A. in terms of inkjet unit shipment this quarter shows that the demand for inkjet in the region is becoming stronger than ever. Concurrently, we are also seeing an increase in demand for ink-tank printers as the ratio for ink-tank versus ink-cartridge had reached an all time high of 38 percent. More businesses are buying ink-tank to take advantage of the low printing cost.”

“The laser market also see a stronger growth within higher value speed segments of 30+ ppm (pages per minute), as some vendors are struggling with profitability within the low-end speed segments of 1-30 ppm and want to shift up in order to help them protect their profit margin,” said Liao.

Other highlights and upcoming trends to note in the APeJ hardcopy peripherals market for the second-quarter of 2017 include:

  • The top-five printer/MFP companies account for 81 percent of the market. The dominance of main players is expected to continue.  IDC doesn’t expect to see any new printer/MFP companies entering the market that will be able to make a significant difference to the market.
  • The inkjet market continues to shift more towards ink-tank printers. Ink-tank printers and MFPs continues to grow at a rapid rate, recording a 17.2 [percent YoY growth in second-quarter 2017. The growth is said to be largely due to the consumer and SMB segments, where customers are more cost-conscious and prefer the low cost-per-page benefit that ink-tank technology can provide. ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) remains the top market for both inkjet and ink-tank printers.
  • The Laser market in APeJ continues to outperform the rest of the world. Propelled by the growing demand for print devices in China, APeJ had recorded the highest YoY growth rate in the world for the fourth consecutive quarter.
  • Online sales are at an all time high. Due to the 6.18 online shopping festival and the strengthening partnership between vendors and key etailers such as and Tmall, online purchasing continued to expand outside of the consumer segment; channels are shifting to make their purchases online due to the low product pricing and ease of delivery provided by the etailers.
  • Mature markets continue to shift away from print. Mature markets such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea all continued to decline in their overall shipment in second-quarter 2017 as a result of digitization and the high adoption rate of smart devices in these markets.

In the second quarter of 2017, HP Inc. retained the leading market share in APeJ with 29.4 percent share, up 3.8 percent versus second-quarter 2016. HP was followed by Canon (20.4 percent share), Epson (19.0 percent share), Brother (7.6 percent share), and Samsung (4.2 percent share).

For more information on this IDC research, contact Shari Jane Jansen at

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