Production placement growth in 2014 – but watch the segments

Ralf Schlozer
Apr 29, 2015

InfoTrends just published the 2014 production placement numbers for the U.S. and Western Europe. In both geographies we had some growth in placements. In general Europe showed a much better growth driven by a stabilizing economy in 2014, while growth in the U.S. was marginal, based on the fears of a slowing economy. Of course growth rates differ not only by geography, but also by product segment. One of the fastest growing segments in 2014 were mid-volume color devices, the type of devices typically used at high-end print rooms or quick printers and small to mid-size commercial printers. Installations grew by 29% in the U.S. and 33% in Europe in 2014. This is no mean feat in print market under pressure.

2008 to 2014 Mid-production Placements

For a meaningful tracking of growth or decline in a market, as well as market share overviews, we try to define market segments containing products that compete against each other with similar features, price points and user profiles. Segmenting products can be a tough task however.

For color products we moved away from using speed as a main differentiator years ago, as it became obvious that lower speed devices for high-end professional users became mixed with fairly fast MFPs that are not intended professional use – products designed for occasional burst output in the office rather than prolonged operation. We found that the duty cycle provided a relatively good measure to segment the color products. At first we defined four duty cycle ranges and later on refined them into six, ranging from entry level color devices to ultra-heavy duty roll-fed printers.

But also the duty cycle ranges have some draw-backs. In segmenting a product we sometimes deviate from the officially stated duty cycles somewhat if we feel that one product is for example better represented in the next lower duty cycle segment. In segmenting we take other factors into consideration as well. A new generation product replacing an older product usually falls into the same competitive range. We also consider where a product fits into a vendor’s portfolio relative to other products on offer. If product falls between a light and high volume production device, we tend to segment it as a mid-volume device. Additionally we expect that for a vendor their light production devices to be selling in higher numbers than their mid-range devices, which should outsell the high-end printers.

We did notice however that technological progress is superseding our segmentation system. New printers tend not only to be faster than the devices they replace, but also tend to offer more functionality and a higher duty cycle. At some point the functionality and duty cycle is so much improved, that the new device could be segmented in a higher duty cycle class than the product it replaces. Or a newly launched product is sharing the same duty cycle range as existing products while another range is not or only marginally occupied.

Recently we had to make the difficult decision in segmenting the Canon imagePRESS C700/800. The products have a duty cycle rating of 400k and 500k respectively. Accordingly they would fall into our mid-range category of 301-999k. At the same time the Canon imagePRESS C60xx/70xx are long established in the same category and perfectly fit the bill of a mid-range product range. However Canon is only marginally present in the light production range with the imageRUNNER ADVANCE C9xxx Pro Series, which is even positioned as a high-end office product in some regions. Based on the product portfolio we initially placed the imagePRESS C700/800 in the light production range, although the duty cycle range runs from 101 to 300k impressions and being aware that the products are rather competing at the high end of that range. With the launch of the imagePRESS C60 and a closer examination of the product we decided to move to the mid-volume range, where C700/800 sit at the lower end.

This could be an all-academic discussion without anybody outside of InfoTrends caring (and admittedly, the majority of humankind will never) but the duty cycle rating of one product can have a profound impact on the growth rate of a segment. In the case of the imagePRESS C700/800 it leads to the strong growth mentioned above. Without the C700/800 the mid-range segment would have showed a decline in 2014 in both regions. Likewise light production color has been impacted negatively by having the C700/800 in a higher segment to show only a small growth in the U.S. and decent growth of 12% in Europe.

Independent from the segmentation we can certainly see that the light- to mid-production color market did perform better than most other segments. Please contact us if do not only want to learn more about our production placement numbers, but also about the story behind market movements. Contact for more information.

2008 to 2014 Mid-production Placements

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