IDC: Lasers boost multifunction printers in Asia

Buoyed by strong demand in China and India, laser multifunction printer sales will continue to soar across the region, IDC predicts.

Businesses in the Asia-Pacific region are lapping up printers that do more than print.

According to the latest report by IDC, the Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, shipped 8.1 million multifunction printers (MFPs) in 2006, a 28 percent growth over the previous year.

Increased demand for laser MFPs accounted for much of MFP sales in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in developing markets such as China, India and the Philippines. The region's total laser MFP shipments registered a 46 percent growth over 2005, soaring to slightly more than 2 million units in 2006.

Laser MFP models with document speeds of between 1 and 20 pages per minute (ppm) exhibited the most growth. IDC noted that this form factor grew 25 percent in unit shipments in 2006 to reach 580,000 units.

Francine Khoo, senior analyst for IDC's Asia-Pacific MFP research, predicted that laser MFPs in this performance category will continue to do well in the MFP market over the next five years.

"Low-priced offerings in this market segment are penetrating homes and replacing inkjet and laser printers," said Khoo in a statement.

Khoo added that the increasing number of network-capable laser MFPs in the 1-20ppm market segment will see greater adoption from small and medium-sized companies due to falling prices.

According to IDC, laser MFPs in the 31ppm segment will compete with similar offerings from copier vendors by 2010, as printer vendors are likely to launch better price-performance offerings to better penetrate enterprises. Models below the 31ppm class, IDC noted, will continue to serve the consumer space.

Another segment likely to blossom over the next half decade is the color MFP segment. Laser MFPs capable of printing color constituted 5 percent of overall laser MFP shipments in 2006. According to IDC, this market segment is expected to reach 9 percent by 2011, driven by falling hardware prices as well as lower running costs.

IDC said that it also expects fax-based laser MFPs to continue cannibalizing the single-function fax machine segment. However, as more varieties of MFPs start entering the market, the analyst company forecasted the Average Selling Value (ASV) of these machines to fall below US$300 by 2008.

While all Asia-Pacific countries are expected to show a positive compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for laser MFPs through 2011, IDC singled out India, China and Vietnam to experience the strongest CAGR due to the comparatively lower laser MFP penetration in these developing economies.