IDC said the total market experienced a seasonal 12 percent drop in unit shipments from Q3 to Q4 and warned the market could slide by as much as 13 percent in 2004 compared to 2003.
The Q4 decline encompasses inkjet single function printer, multi-function printers (MFPs), laser and Serial Dot Matrix (SDM) printers.
The mono laser printer market declined by 11 percent going into the fourth quarter, while the colour laser printer remained stable at 7,000 units in each quarter. SDMs took a big blow from the other printer technologies in the market, recording a drop in demand of 19 percent in Q4.
Inkjet MFPs was the only product to record an increase in the fourth quarter, rising by a marginal 1 percent. However, IDC attributes the rise of demand for these machines to the 20 percent drop in the single function market.
IDC market analyst, Brad Hill, blames the "seasonality" for drop in market demands, saying the fourth quarter is generally the quietest time of the year.
"The deals and volumes associated with high end and workgroup machines simply aren't there in Q4," said Hill, adding "There is however, usually a steady demand from consumers."
Hill predicts that the inkjet MFP market will pick up in 2004, as he says vendors will begin offering more "solution based" products to consumers and small businesses "creating more demand for these products".
IDC states that the total printer market will continue to decline by around 13 percent, or around 970,000 units, over 2004, with laser MFPs and inkjet printers continuing to impact single function machines.
The forecast for the inkjet MFPs look promising, according to IDC, with the machines expected to dominant the inkjet market with a 50 percent market share in 2004/5.