HP remains Australia's top selling brand of printer, according to market analysts IDC.
Figures for the fourth quarter of 2003 show the vendor held top spot in the multi-function printer category and the laser printer market. HP was runner-up to Canon in the single-function printer market.
Last year, HP sold around 580,000 units. Canon came second selling just under 500,000 units.
The overall market in 2003 grew slowly to 1.6 million. Similar growth is expected in 2004.
In the last three months of 2003, the market slipped 12 per cent on the back of a seasonal fall.
IDC said about 390,000 printers were shipped in the period, but IDC expected business demand to take in the first quarter of 2004.
In the last quarter of 2003, mono laser printer sales were 43,000 units (down 13 per cent over Q3). The top sellers wereCanon, HP and Epson.The colour laser printer market remained stable at 7000, with HP remaining on top.
The old single dot matrix printers (held by Oki, Epson and Lexmark) continued their long decline. Sales fell to 2440 (down 19 per cent). The only market sector to increase in Q4 was inkjet multifunction printers,up one per cent, to 140,000 units.
IDC attributed this to a 20 per cent decline in sales in the single function market to 198,000 units.
IDC market analyst, Brad Hill, said all major producers introduced new models last year, so market shares remained reasonably constant among brands.
"HP and Canon are battling it out for top place, and how well Dell does depends on their product suite," Hill said.
"Dell only has two printers [a single function and a multi-function] at the moment which will make it difficult to make an impact. You don't think of Dell as a printer vendor. Dell is seen as a PC vendor and it will have to overcome people's perceptions. They need to increase their branding." Hill said that Dell might face trouble with its direct sell approach as printers tended to be something bought after people had tested them in a shop.
Looking to 2004, IDC said the shift from single function printers to multi-function models capable of faxing and photocopying would continue.
It expects single function model sales to drop 13 per cent to 970,000. Sales of multifunction laser and inkjet models will increase 34 per cent to 655,000. Colour will also grow in use, hitting 15 per cent of the decreasing single function market.