Monochrome devices continue to dominate the laser multi-function printer market, but the release of the first sub-$1000 colour models is expected to tip the scales next year, analysts report.
According to IDC, 87 per cent of all printer-based laser multi-function devices (MFDs) sold in Q3 were monochrome. Sales of these models contributed 66.4 per cent year-on-year total category growth and 26.7 per cent sequentially.
By contrast, colour copier-based MFDs recorded healthy take-up, growing by 44.9 per cent year-on-year and 13.3 per cent sequentially. They represented 41 per cent of the copier-based MFD sales in Q3.
Peripherals analyst, Katarzyna Czubak, attributed the slower colour printer-based sales to the higher purchase price and cost of colour consumables. She also pointed out 92.1 per cent of printer-based colour model sales were in the 10ppm and below (entry-level) segment.
"The printer side has concentrated on the entry-level market segment, whereas the copiers are targeted at organisations with high volume," she said.
However, the introduction of two sub-$1000 colour models from HP in October would bring average selling prices down and propel growth in coming quarters, she said. The current average price of an entry-level, colour MFD printer is $1366. This was a drop of 10 per cent compared with Q3 last year.
"Colour printer MFDs are still a relatively new thing, having been around for about a year. Vendors have been trying to keep the prices on a moderate level so we've seen other things like extended warranties or cash back schemes," she said. "HP's sub-$1000 models will now push other vendors to come up with products in that sub segment. We'll see a rapid fall in price."
HP once again topped the printer-based MFD list for market share (33.1 per cent). It was followed by Samsung, with 25.6 per cent, a marked increase compared to Q2 (17.6 per cent). Czubak said growth stemmed from sales of its entry-level monochrome MFDs, which had snatched market share away from single function printers.
Rounding out the top five were Brother (12.7 per cent), Canon (10.3 per cent) and Lexmark (7.3 per cent - a rise of three points).
In terms of the broader laser MFD market, printer-based devices grew faster than their copier-based counterparts, with sales increasing year-on-year by 71 per cent. They now hold 58.6 per cent market share.