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Like most of the rest of the technology industry, the hardcopy peripherals market has completed a brutal year, according to IDC’s latest numbers. Overall, the worldwide hardcopy peripherals market declined 21 percent year over year in 2Q09 to 24.1 million units. Shipment value declined 23.2 per cent over the same time period to $11.6 billion.

The specific commercial market numbers that make up most of the VAR channel’s business declined in this same fashion, said Phuong Hang, program manager, Worldwide Hardcopy Peripheral Trackers.

"Similar to the PC market, our Q209 data suggest VARs haven’t done well in the past two quarters," Hang said. "They are showing a -15 per cent to -20 per cent quarter/quarter trend in terms of unit shipment, and a slightly greater loss when comparing year/year trend."

The comparative bright light in the peripheral picture was the color laser multifunction peripheral (MFP) market. Given the overall nature of the market, it did comparatively well, with unit shipments declining just 6 per cent year over year in the second quarter of 2009 (2Q09). The MFP market overall is not suffering as badly as single function devices.

While color laser penetration continues to increase, the older technologies still retain most market share. The inkjet market continues to be the dominant technology segment with 16.6 million units shipped in 2Q09. The color inkjet MFP segment showed the second highest growth rate among all technology segments behind color laser MFPs with -13 per cent year-over-year growth.

The monochrome laser market also remains the largest technology segment in terms of value at $4.2 billion and has the largest potential regarding MFP opportunity. This segment has the lowest rate of MFP penetration of all major non-impact segments.

"This current trend towards lower-end models is not a surprise, Hang said. "I believe the increase in vendors’ promotions for end-users help drive this trend."

Hang did note that the bad economy has led vendors to offer both cost cutting and productivity enhancements.

"We are seeing increased shipments for devices that were priced below $300," he said. "And the major vendors are emphasizing innovative cost savings — including extended warranties and/or extended supplies agreements — in the advertising. They are trying to entice buyers with savings on both devices and supplies over a three-year period. We are seeing an increase in the number of promotions for both dealers and end-users, including 15-50 per cent discounts to dealers on certain models and free gift promotion or cash rebate promotion on low-end models."

HP continues to be the undisputed leader in printing with twice the market share of its nearest competitor in shipments despite losing nearly 4 points in unit market share and declining 28 per cent year over year in 2Q09.

Canon, the second leading vendor, outperformed all others in the top 5 category, increasing its stake in the overall hardcopy market to 20 per cent in 2Q09 from 17 per cent in 1Q09. On a worldwide level, Canon’s shipments declined 8 per cent compared to the other vendors in the top 5, whose unit shipment growth ranged from -13 per cent to -32 per cent. Canon was the only vendor in the top 5 that showed positive sequential growth (5 per cent).

Epson retained its third place rank in the total hardcopy market as well as in the worldwide inkjet segment in 2Q09. Epson was the second best performer among the top 5 in the overall market, with -13 per cent year-over-year growth compared to the market average of -21 per cent. Epson gained 1 point in total market share.

Brother remained the distant fourth vendor, gaining 1 point in total market share to 6 per cent in 2Q209. On a worldwide level, Brother’s inkjet and laser segment suffered a bigger year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter loss in 2Q09, with numbers ranging from -18 per cent to -32 per cent compared to +6 per cent to -11 per cent in 1Q09.

Lexmark maintained its 5 per cent share and position as the fifth largest vendor in the overall hardcopy market, with 1.1 million units shipped in 2Q09. Lexmark’s 2Q09 total laser shipment showed a slower year-over-year decline in 2Q09, down 13 per cent versus 18 per cent in 1Q09. Lexmark continues to focus on laser while exiting the lower end inkjet segment. In 2Q09, laser shipments accounted for 29 per cent (up from 21 per cent in 1Q09) and inkjet 70 per cent (down from 78 per cent) of all Lexmark-branded devices.

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