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According to research by International Data Corporation (IDC), the Western European printer and multifunction (MFP) market decreased by 6.9% in unit terms in 4Q18 compared with the same period a year ago. This is in line with the previous quarter and contributed to the 2018 overall Western Europe market contracting by 5.3%. This equated to a decline of over 1 million units to create a market of below 20 million units. The negative trend can be clearly seen, and it will continue over IDC's forecast period.
In 4Q18 the inkjet markets suffered the most despite the Christmas period as shipments declined by 8.8%, and most of this decline was in consumer inkjets as the home print market continues to change. Business inkjets did dip in 4Q18, but not all OEMs suffered as some had positive growth. The value for the business inkjet market was positive as more A3 devices shipped. The overall 2018 shipment figure for inkjet devices was also negative.
Laser shipments were flat in 4Q18, but value suffered as there was a skew towards lower speed monochrome devices which naturally carry lower average sales prices (ASPs). Monochrome markets increased by 1.7% due to high A4 shipments, but lower than expected A4 color printer sales meant that the overall color market declined 4.8%. Values for both laser markets also fell. A relatively poor end to the year meant that 2018 laser markets did decline, but there was growth in some areas.
The niche market of serial impact dot matrix (SDM) also declined in 4Q18 and 2018. This technology has been declining for many years but is still profitable for those remaining within it.
"Contraction in the hardcopy markets is clearly in evidence as many organizations transition parts of their business processes away from paper to digital," said Phil Sargeant, program director in IDC's Western European Imaging, Hardware Devices, and Document Solutions group. "The printed page will remain a vital communication tool for most organizations across the vertical spectrum, however, as not all processes are ready for digitization. Proof points for this simply include the number of laser and business inkjets that still ship in their millions every quarter."
- The overall Western European hardcopy market contracted 6.9% year on year in 4Q18, recording a shipment figure of 4.8 million units. The overall 2018 market declined 5.3%.
- The main area of growth was the A3 inkjet market, which comprises desktop and standalone devices; both increased in 4Q18. They also increased for 2018 as a whole.
- Another area of growth was seen in A4 monochrome laser printers and MFPs in 4Q18, but annual 2018 market growth was negative.
- Color laser markets also suffered during 4Q18 and 2018, due largely to the decline of printers.