Internet-enabled devices ‘reshaping’ hardcopy industry

A new study by research firm IDC has revealed that the boom in Internet-enabled mobile devices (IEMDs) is reshaping the printing industry, offering new challenges and opportunities for hardcopy vendors.

After a flat trend in 2010, IDC said it expects home and office print volumes in Western Europe to slow down even further, declining at a CAGR of 0.6 percent from 2011 through 2015. The increasing popularity of IEMDs will contribute to this slow decline, IDC said.

“New Internet-enabled mobile devices change the nature of users’ relationship with documents,” said Arnaud Gagneux, director for imaging hardcopy and document solutions ay Western Europe, IDC.

“This affects both consumers and businesses, and offers hardcopy vendors opportunities for growth in security, document solutions, and managed print services, to name a few.”

Roughly 95 million smartphones are expected to be sold in 2011, up more than 220 percent year on year. The massive uptake has already drastically changed the way users consult certain documents, reducing the need for printouts.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg, IDC noted. In the enterprise sector, the increasingly mobile workforce will create huge demand for IEMDs in the years to come, ignited by the global process of digitization and consumerization of IT.

As discussed in the study, media tablets will make their entrance in key vertical markets with dramatic consequences for document workflows. As a result it will be crucial for vendors to have a mobile and cloud printing solution strategy in place, IDC said.

“With information increasingly available in digital format at users’ fingertips, the entire hardcopy industry faces a real challenge,” said Mario Lombardo, senior analyst for imaging hardware devices at IDC.

“The boom in IEMDs, combined with the growth in cloud storage and digitization, is already set to change the rules of the game in the printing industry.”

But it is not all doom and gloom for the hardcopy industry. As outlined in the study, the growth in digital content will continue to create many opportunities in the document solutions area.

There will continue to be significant opportunities for print in select verticals, due to hardcopy document compliance and the use of business applications for which paper documents are still preferred.

The production printing space will also be greatly impacted by the digital revolution. With e-readers expected to generate a CAGR of 23.7 percent between 2011 and 2015, demand for e-books will be high.

Though this will negatively impact the analog printing market, demand for short runs will increase, favoring digital production printing, said IDC.

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