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Weak demand, tighter inventory controls and shortages of low-end products
all contributed to a 20 percent decline for the printer, copier and multifunction
printer market for the first half of 2009.

That’s according to a new report from Gartner that found that unit shipments
totaled 51.3 million in the first half of 2009. The report also indicated that
Hewlett-Packard lost market share as most other vendors gained.

“The market witnessed a weak demand as both businesses and consumers reduced
spending, and the drop in shipments was also impacted by tighter inventory
controls in order to minimize inventory levels in the channels,” says Lai-Ling
Lam, senior research analyst at Gartner, in a prepared statement. “The
situation was further exacerbated by the shortages of popular low-end inkjets
and page printers to home, small businesses, and small and medium businesses.”

Office printers were the hardest hit, with a 24.5 percent drop in shipments in
the first half of 2009, and some businesses may be re-evaluating their use of
printers altogether, a trend that has the potential to change the market

“In this tough economic environment, businesses are delaying or eliminating
purchases of new equipments altogether,” says Lam. “The global downturn has
also forced them to review their printing needs, which could change their print
consumptions in the long term. At the same time, it also makes print vendors
increasingly look at alternative hardware strategies such as managed print
service [MPS] and smart MFP adoption as ways
to increase revenue.”

The consumer market performed slightly better than the office market, with
consumer inkjet product shipments falling by 17.3 percent in the first half of

HP lost market share in the first half of 2009, falling from 43.4 percent to 40
percent. Gartner attributed the loss to the HP’s tighter control over its
channel inventory levels amidst weakening demand.

“HP’s loss was Canon’s gain, which had stable performance in Americas
and Asia/Pacific, helping it to increase its market share to 19 percent in the
first half of 2009,” Lam says. While HP lost share, it still led the pack
with its 40 percent market share, followed by Canon with 19 percent market
share, up from 16.8 percent in the first half of last year.  Epson was third
with 14.2 percent market share, up from 13.7 percent in the first half of 2008.
Samsung Electronics came in fourth with 4.9 percent market share, compared with
4.4 percent in the first half of last year. All other vendors made up 15.6
percent market share, compared with 16.2 percent in the first half of 2008.

Despite some positive indicators from distributors and vendors recently,
Gartner doesn’t see a great recovery ahead for the print market in 2009.

“A best-case scenario will see some improvement in demand, loosening in
inventory control and fulfillment of back orders, which would uplift the
market, ending the year with a single-digit decline. However, we do not expect
the market to recover before 2010,” Lam says.