by July 30, 2012 0 comments

– Abhijit Ahaskar and Rahul Kumar

Multifunction printers are fast changing the print device landscape in India. They offer an option of device consolidation, smaller footprint and most importantly reduce hardware cost. According to leading research firm CyberMedia Research, penetration of multifunction devices has increased in Indian market over a period of time. The percentage split between single function and multi function printers, increased from 60% to 65% in favor of the latter, in the last fiscal year of 2011-12 when compared with similar time period earlier. The overall printers sell through declined 14% in Jan-Feb-Mar 2012 as compared to Jan-Feb-Mar 2011, but the laser multifunction category increased by 22% in similar time frame. HP led the ink multifunction space with 69% market share in terms of units, but lost shares to rapidly growing Epson with 14% share followed by Canon. However, HP ruled the laser multifunction space with 55% share, a gain of 2% from the JFM’11, followed by Canon at 17% and Samsung.

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While the market might not have been exciting in terms of sell through, vendors like Epson, Canon and Samsung engaged in product ramp up. Epson launched CIS (Continuous Ink Supply) InkJet models L100 & L200 which was positioned on low cost and was well accepted in the market. Canon also followed suit with E500 ink multifunction model with a low cost cartridge, which received immediate response. In the laser multifunction space, Samsung returned with a “chip-less” toner based model SCX3201G, and Canon came up with MF3010.

Decreasing price gap between printers & MFPs facilitated adoption in SMEs

The printer market had been affected with some product shortages. While the first half of FY-12 saw short supply of laser multifunction printers from market leader HP, the second half experienced Canon feeling the impact. In single function category, HP faced shortage in laser single function printers in second half of financial year FY 2011-12. Canon also failed to ensure adequate supply of ink single function printers from the end of CY 2011.

In second half FY 2011-12, the printer market experienced traction in laser multifunction category even in a slow market scenario where other printer categories struggled. Market leader HP restored supplies where as Samsung was aggressive with the newly launched models. The market witnessed a growth in contribution of smaller vendors like Panasonic. Epson and Ricoh were the other new entrants in laser multifunction segment.

Decreasing price gap between single function and multifunction printers in the same technology space have triggered adoption in home, SMB, education and lower end retails like mobile stores. Statutory requirements for archiving the proof of user identities have also led to adoption of multifunction ink printers in cybercafés and telecom service provider outlets.

Inkjet MFDs vs Laser MFDs

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Ink multifunction printers provide facility for both mono and color printing, whereas print speed calls for laser printers. Ink multifunction printers offer better affordability, but are more suitable for modest printing speeds. Lasers are workhorses in terms of heavy duty printing, but they are also three to four times expensive as compared to InkJets for mono printing. Even color laser printers command a premium over their mono counterparts. Most SMBs prefer to have both single function as well as multifunction printer to address different set of printing requirements to attain an overall cost optimized printing solution. For multifunction printer, flatbeds offer greater convenience while scanning as compared to sheetfed. In SMB space, most of multifunction printers have 3 functions i.e. print, scan and copy. Fax based machines are less popular. In case of laser multifunction, duplex functionality is gaining preference as it reduces the paper cost. Automatic document feeder (ADF) utility is becoming popular in SMB space.

Both Ink and laser multifunction printers cater to their own dedicated segments defined by the specific printing needs. In this scenario, as the market opens up for print, the possibility of cannibalization between these two form-factors remains quite remote at present and is likely to remain unchanged in near future.

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