Printer sales drop sharply in Latin America

Economic and political problems made many consumers and businesses in Latin America decide to hold off on buying single-function printers last year, leading to a sharp downturn in this market, according to a pair of studies.

Shipments of single-function printers fell about 15 per cent in 2002 compared to 2001 in Latin America, IDC and Gartner Inc.’s Dataquest Inc. found in separate studies.

Both market research companies define the market as including single-function inkjet, laser, dot matrix and solid ink printers.

IDC and Dataquest exclude from their samples devices that perform other tasks in addition to printing, such as scanning, faxing and copying. Although still a nascent market in Latin America, these multifunction devices are growing at a fast clip and eating into sales of single-function printers, both IDC and Dataquest found. For example, during the fourth quarter of 2002, shipments of single-function printers fell 20.6 per cent, while shipments of multifunction printers rose an eye-popping 287 per cent in the region, according to Dataquest.

IDC said five million single-function printers were shipped in Latin America, a 15 per cent drop from 2001. The value of those printers was US$976.5 million, a 20 per cent decrease over 2001, according to IDC.

The downward trend is expected to continue through the first half of 2003, as consumers and businesses in Latin America cling to “an extremely cautious” attitude towards purchases of single-function printers, IDC said in a statement last week.

Meanwhile, Dataquest counted 5.2 million units, down 15.3 per cent from 2001. HP remained as leader in shipments with 41.7 per cent of the market, followed by Epson Corp. with 26.9 per cent, Lexmark International Inc. with 15.8 per cent and Canon Inc. with 11.4 per cent, Dataquest said in statement Monday.

Lexmark was the only major vendor that managed to ship more printers in 2002 than in 2001, with a 5.2 increase in shipments, while Xerox Corp. experienced the biggest decline in shipments with 74.3 per cent, according to Dataquest.

By country, Brazil retained its top spot in shipments with 1.6 million, followed by M