Direct-dealing vendors are eating sour grapes this week as Epson's reinvigorated channel strategy proved a winner in the Australian three-horse, inkjet printer market race.
While Hewlett-Packard, Canon and Epson all retained their firm holds on the top three positions, International Data Corporation (IDC) reports Canon is no longer the silver medallist in the quarterly unit shipment competition, with Epson beating it by 0.4 per cent in the first quarter of 1999.
"After a change in channel strategy, which saw Epson pushing more of its products through mass merchants, and a change to a more competitive price structure backed by advertising, Epson pushed Canon out of second position," IDC market analyst Les Champkin explained.
189,000 inkjet printers worth $57.9 million changed hands in the first three months of the year, with HP shipping 30.7 per cent of all units sold. At 30 per cent, Epson was only slightly ahead of Canon which covered 29.6 per cent of the local market. However, Epson was a clear winner in the revenue stakes, beating HP by 1.8 per cent.
"Epson's first-quarter success is proof of how vital the channel is in a situation where three leaders are so close to each other in terms of their market share," said Champkin.
Industry pundits now predict Epson, which is growing its inkjet market at a phenomenal rate of 50 per cent per quarter, may well become the number-one inkjet vendor in the country by the end of the millennium.