Printers used to be a pricey luxury in Asian homes, then along came ... you know what

Best not to go long on printer shares, IDC predicts copy shops will rise again


Analyst firm IDC has spotted up an uptick in the Asia Pacific region's printer market, thanks to a certain virus you may read about in the news of late.

The firm's new Worldwide Quarterly Hardcopy Peripherals (HCP) Tracker noted 5.5 per cent year-on-year growth for 2020, taking units sold from 3.3 million in Q4 2019 to 3.5 million in Q4 2020. Overall, numbers were still down 13.9 per cent for the whole of last year.

“Unlike the Western regions, home-based users have never been a big market for HCP in this region except for a few countries such as Indonesia,” said Han Jie Poh, IDC's senior research manager for imaging, print, and document solutions research at IDC Asia/Pacific.

Consumer sales rose while commercial peripherals dropped as the COVID-era change in the work and education environment inspired people to install or replace printers in their homes. Company reimbursements and government IT product stimulus packages contributed to the surge, Poh said.

But the analyst said the even the inkjet printers that sold well in late 2020 - at price points of US$50-100 - are "quite expensive for majority of the households in this region".

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Moving into 2021, Poj predicted sales would therefore sink to previously normal levels

"It is likely that they would outsource to copy shops for any print requirement once things return back to normal without maintaining a device at home," he said.

IDC's numbers cover single-function printers, multifunctional systems (such as all-singing fax/print/scan devices), and single-function digital copiers. The numbers covered an Asia Pacific region, but excluded Japan and China.

Inkjets were the clear top product with 66.6 per cent of the market share for Q4 2020. Lasers won 31.9 per cent of spend for the same period, with dot matrix printers still hanging on with 1.5 per cent of the market.

The demand for inkjets caused product shortages and even led some to settle for laser printers in the absence of inkjet stock, said the analyst. Entry-level lasers dominated the market.

The HCP market has shrunk, measured by shipments, since the second quarter of 2018. IDC noted that the worldwide market for HCP grew for the first time in two years - by 8.6 per cent year over year to nearly 26.2 million units - in Q3 2020. ®

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