Converting the Monochromatic

The color laser copier and printer markets are poised for growth if vendors can deliver the right mix of speed and price, Gartner Dataquest reports.

The research firm predicts U.S. color page printer hardware shipments to grow 24.6 percent in 2002, to more than 315,000 units, up from 252,000 units in 2001. U.S. color copier hardware shipments are expected to reach 44,000 units this year, an increase of 3.5 percent over 2001 shipments of more than 42,000. In 2001, shipments of color page printers increased 8.6 percent, while color copier hardware shipments dropped 6.7 percent.

“In 2002, new color page printer products will span the range from entry-level color lasers for the small office/home office to higher-speed color LED printers that will bring affordable color into the workgroup and enterprise,” said Peter Grant, principal analyst for Gartner Dataquest’s Digital Documents and Imaging Worldwide group. “Vendors competing in the low-end color printer segment need to balance their low hardware price with an acceptable supplies price.”

Gartner Dataquest suggests that enticements, such as including a standard cartridge and a high-capacity cartridge with purchase, may help conquer the high price hurdle of color printing, but converting monochrome users to color could be more difficult.

“More important is to reach the magic cost-per-page for color that removes the barrier to cross over from monochrome to color. The cost for a color page needs to equal that of a monochrome with the same toner coverage,” Grant said.

In 2002, copier vendors will move their products to higher speeds, where they will not sell large numbers of units, but hope to capture considerable page volumes. Gartner Dataquest analysts forecast significant price erosion for color laser copiers at the low end to maintain market share against color laser printer vendors.

Another challenge facing color copier vendors is the competition from color desktop printers for office output. Organizations will have multiple options to buy, lease, rent or outsource and only buy the pages they print.

Figures from InfoTrends Research Group offer equally optimistic projections. Their research shows that unit shipments of document imaging scanners are growing at a projected 33 percent annually through 2006, with revenues growing 12 percent. As the rest of the scanner market matures and slows, demand for high-speed scanners is strong.

“Corporate demands for better access to information, and the need to secure critical data, are opening new opportunities for imaging solutions,” says Susan Moyse, analyst for InfoTrends Research Group. “Moreover, digital copier and multifunction printers (MFP) vendors are introducing scanning applications, driving document imaging beyond its traditional niche. The trends towards color and distributed capture are also helping to propel the industry forward.”

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