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Decline in printer sales ends in Q3 but recovery could be slow

The decline in printer sales ended in the third quarter of the year, but Gartner is cautious of forecasting a more concerted recovery in the market.

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The decline in printer sales ended in the third quarter of the year, but Gartner is cautious of forecasting a more concerted recovery in the market.

Around 1.15m multifunction printers and standalone printers and copiers were shipped in the UK during the period, down 3% on a year ago, but this was markedly better than the 30% and 22% drops in the French and German markets, said analysts.

Split by form factor, flat bed MFPs - which accounted for 77% of all shipments - grew 13%, but this was offset by a 34% and 38% decline in sales of printers and copiers as the migration from standalone devices continues at pace.

The market is moving in the right direction, but Tosh Prabhakar, senior analyst at Gartner, was downbeat about short-term growth prospects.

"I cannot see things dramatically improving in the next six to nine months. The hardware is very mature and there are no compelling technologies that will drive the market forward," he said.

This is in contrast to the comments made by HP CEO Mark Hurd when filing its fourth-quarter financials. He forecast a significant rebound in sales as companies upgraded ageing technology.

Prabhakar said it was "premature" to expect an upturn in the first quarter, but agreed the market could "get interesting" from the second.

"It is ambitious of HP to think that it will see a refresh in the next term," he said.

Gartner reiterated earlier claims that managed and print services were resonating with businesses keen to cut costs: "Going forward, boxes will be very similar so vendors will look to software and services as major revenues drivers."

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