MFP growth to provide relief to printer channel

Multi-function devices' growing popularity helps channel preserve hardware margins

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By  Andrew Seymour Published  September 17, 2008

End-user gravitation towards MFP devices and a greater emphasis on the value aspect of the market will ensure a healthier return for the Middle East printer channel despite the prospect of lower unit growth in the coming quarters.

That’s the verdict of research house IDC, which has confirmed that a 4% sequential rise in the value of the Middle East printer sector masked an “alarming” 7% slump in units during the second quarter.

IDC said quarterly sales of printers, MFPs and single-function copiers in the Middle East reached $327m as several vendors promoted higher-end products to achieve their value targets. However, the overall market only reached 825,000 units during the second quarter, a fall of 7% on the previous three months. IDC did not disclose how the figures compared on a year-on-year basis.

However, the performance of the market during the second quarter has led it to reiterate predictions that MFP demand is reshaping channel buying behaviour. MFP shipments captured 43% of the market during Q2 as single-function printers and copiers both fell to double-digit sequential unit declines.

“There was a clear shift from lower-end single-function printers to MFPs, particularly in the retail sector, where the price gap between the two technologies has diminished tremendously over recent years,” stated IDC. “The shift to more advanced technology can also be explained by improved consumer awareness and an increase in the complexity of end-user requirements.”

In terms of technology, inkjet devices suffered the heaviest quarterly decline, falling 15%, while shipments of monochrome laser products remained stable. In contrast, colour laser devices soared 11% in both volume and value during the quarter.

On a country basis, Egypt enjoyed the strongest quarterly revenue growth following a 26% spike in shipments, while the UAE could only manage a 2% rise. Saudi Arabia posted a 1% decline on the previous quarter.

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