Asia-Pacific printer market rebounds in Q4 driven by consumer demand

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According to analyst firm IDC, the printer market in Asia-Pacific excluding Japan and China (APeJC) recorded 3.5 million units in the last quarter of 2020, a 5.5% growth from 3.3 million units a year ago.

This marked the first quarter that registers a year-over-year growth for the region in 2020. On the other hand, overall shipment levels declined at 13.9% for the full calendar year of 2020.

“The main factor driving the recovery of the HCP (hard copy peripherals) market is from the surge of consumer demand starting in Q2 of the year and leading into Q4,” said Han Jie Poh, senior research manager for imaging print document solutions research at IDC Asia-Pacific.

“The unexpected change in the work environment and education environment due to the pandemic drove a surge of demand from home users to invest in printers to accommodate to work and personal needs. Stimulus packages provided by certain countries specific to IT products, and certain companies providing reimbursement for the purchases also contributed to the surge.”

The demand was overwhelming for inkjet machines, causing various out of stock situations to arise across vendors, which also contributed to the demand trickling into laser printers as well – with popular models being the entry-level models within 1-20 ppm speed range.

Vendors were facing pressure to ensure sufficient stocks were being shipped out, but unfortunately were met with various logistic issues as well as production issues which improved over time towards quarter four of the year.

Poh added, “Unlike the Western regions, the home-based users have never been a big market for HCP in this region except for a few countries such as Indonesia. Moving into 2021, we do not think that the demand will continue after the pandemic is over, as having print devices of $50-100 is quite expensive for majority of the households in this region – with ink purchases another cost factor to be considered. It is likely that they would outsource to copy shops for any print requirement once things return back to normal without maintaining a device at home.”

IDC said there will be other factors impacting the HCP market positively in 2021 and beyond, such as the overall improvement of the logistic and manufacturing constraints which is expected to be fully resolved by the middle of the year. Schools and businesses will start to return back to normalcy as countries within the region has already started on the vaccination program in phases.

“However, we do not expect the shipment levels to return to pre-pandemic levels as digitization has accelerated in 2020 itself, and more digitization efforts will continue across countries. This will likely drive down the printing volume as business processes start to be more digital and there will be lesser need for printed hard copies,” the analyst firm said.

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