Western European Hardcopy Market Flat Despite Growing Economic Uncertainty, Says IDC

LONDON, November 18, 2011 — According to latest research by International Data Corporation (IDC), the hardcopy market in Western Europe returned a slender year-on-year growth rate of 0.2% in the third quarter of 2011 with 6.4 million unit shipments. In revenue terms, however, IDC's Western Europe Quarterly Hardcopy Peripherals Tracker shows that the market actually experienced an 11.9% year-on-year decline, falling to $2.8 billion from $3.1 billion in 3Q10.

Commenting on these headline numbers, Arnaud Gagneux, director of IDC's Western Europe Imaging Hardware Devices and Document Solutions group, said, "The market for print hardware in the region has been affected by stalling consumer and commercial demand across Western Europe as economies struggle to deal with the uncertainty caused by the sovereign debt crisis, which continues to threaten the wider economic recovery."

Gagneux went on to explain that print hardware destined for the consumer end of the market, including inkjet printer and inkjet MFP segments, was being further impacted by weakening demand for PCs, which has the effect of reducing attachment sales between the two product categories. Commenting further on the demand for commercial products, Gagneux pointed to the laser MFP product segment as one that is delivering robust growth despite the tough trading conditions.

In line with expectations, the long-term technology trend for market share to shift from printers to MFPs continued to play out during 3Q11. Total printer shipments in Western Europe contracted by 8.7% to 1.52 million units, while MFP shipments experienced resilient growth of 3.4% to reach 4.8 million units.

Phil Sargeant, research manager at IDC's Western Europe Imaging Hardware Devices and Document Solutions group, shed further light on the market dynamics currently affecting the hardcopy market in the region, drawing attention to the increased demand for business inkjet devices: "For many years printers and MFPs featuring inkjet technology were largely destined for the consumer and SOHO markets. But in recent years and following significant investments by vendors such as HP, inkjet technology is increasingly being positioned as a cost-effective alternative for low-volume office applications."


Germany remains the largest hardcopy market in Western Europe, with total shipments of 1.7 million units in 3Q11, which represents solid year-on-year growth of 2.6%. Shipments generally held up well across the various market segments with the notable exception of consumer focused inkjet devices, which only grew 1% to 0.9 million units. This reflects weak consumer demand. Laser MFP unit shipments reached 0.2 million, a strong year-on-year growth rate of 14.4%. This figure far outpaces the Western European average.

United Kingdom:

The U.K. market is the second-largest hardcopy market in Western Europe and in 3Q11 total shipments surpassed 1.26 million units. This year-on-year rise in shipment volume amounted to 0.12 million units or 11%. The reason for this high growth can be attributed to the large number of competitively priced low-end inkjet products currently stocking U.K. sales channels in the lead up to the Christmas period. Inkjet shipments, MFP and printer combined, increased 12.6% over 3Q10.


France was the only top 3 European country market to experience negative growth. Total hardcopy shipments fell slightly from a year-on-year perspective and now amount to 1.1 million for the quarter, a slight decline of 0.8%. Shipments of high-value products, including the laser MFP segment, held up very well, reaching 0.1 million units and growing 7.4% year on year.


• Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Hardcopy Peripherals Tracker, November 2011.

• IDC tracks A2–A4 devices in the Quarterly Hardcopy Peripherals Tracker.

• Hardcopy peripherals include single-function printers, printer-based multifunctional systems (MFPs), and single-function digital copiers (SFDCs). Data for all vendors is reported for calendar periods.

• For more information about IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Hardcopy Peripherals Tracker in EMEA, please contact Arnaud Gagneux (


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