Placements of Western European Office Devices Continue to Suffer

Deborah Hawkins
Apr 9, 2013

The Western European1 office equipment market continued to contract in 2012, driven by a weak economy, device consolidation through managed print services and new competition from business inkjet . Placements of single function and multifunction laser printers in office environments (1-69 ppm) declined 8.1% year over year whilst placements of business inkjet devices increased 3.3%. The majority of the decline in laser devices was in single function printers, where placements dropped 16% year over year. The market continues to shift from single function to multifunction devices, and from monochrome to colour engines.

The most growth occurred within the A4 multifunction segment. Placements of black and white A4 multifunction printers (MFPs) grew  9.9% year over year, while colour A4 MFP placements increased 8.1%. A4 MFPs are popular in managed print environments where the emphasis has been on reducing the total number of devices to achieve cost efficiencies. The need for A3 format has declined significantly in recent years, with the exception of specialty applications such as graphic arts. This trend, along with the availability of a full range of A4 devices and the reduced machine cost of A4 versus A3, has led to A4 becoming the first choice for office applications.


A growing threat to office laser printers is the emergence of page-wide business inkjet devices. There are already more annual placements of business inkjet MFPs in Western Europe than there are colour laserprinters. A recent primary research study conducted by InfoTrends, “Is Inkjet Technology Ready to Transform the Office Printing Environment?,” illustrates that customers that have already embraced business inkjet typically cite cost saving as a key reason for their decision. In 2013, new products are expected from a number of vendors and we expect this segment of the market to become more competitive and increasingly important.

HP leads the Western European laser printer/MFP market with a 23.2% share, slightly down over the previous year. Second position goes to Samsung (22.2% share), which has captured major chunks of the market–particularly in the entry level space. Brother, meanwhile, holds a very strong 3rd position.


Of course, market share is not the only indicator of market success; analysis of speed segment splits shows a different picture of vendor performance. The continued up-streaming of devices has pushed the entry-level segment above 20 ppm. In addition, as the industry becomes more and more services-based, hardware market share is not necessarily the sole determinant of vendor success.

The weak European economy is not the only factor contributing to the contraction of placements, but it is one that is not likely to change quickly. With unemployment at an all-time high of 12% in the eurozone, and fiscal tightening throttling potential economic growth, it is very possible that the majority of eurozone countries will soon go into recession.

While 2012 was a challenging year for industry players, there were certainly a number of bright spots, including A4 MFPs and business inkjet devices. Vendors can continue to concentrate on these growth areas, as they have the potential to take on a much larger role in the office environment. With services also playing a greater role in the office environment, vendors must ensure they are offering the necessary resources, including a software toolbox, full device range, and consultative skillset.

1For the purposes of this analysis, Western Europe comprises Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.

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