Fax and copiers beware the ides of March

The quarter ending March 2001 proved disastrous for the sale of copiers and fax machines according to the latest report by the Office Equipment Industry Association (OEIA).

The report states the sale of all copiers was 12 per cent lower in Q2 fiscal 2001 compared to the previous quarter ending December 2000.

According to the report, fax machines took a bigger hit with the average sales dropping 31 per cent in the March quarter 2001 compared to the preceding December quarter. Furthermore, the report claims the sales value of facsimiles dropped by 22 per cent over this period.

The news isn't all bad for the sector, says OEIA executive director Stephen Smith, with some categories making strong gains.

"There are always fluctuations from quarter to quarter. The real indicator is the average sales over the course of the year," Smith told ARN.

Sales for black and white and colour copiers remained fairly stagnant for the 12-month period to March 2001, growing 1 per cent and 4 per cent respectively. Yet sales for digital copiers that can be connected to a company's LAN rose 21 per cent.

Smith claims this is due to more companies looking for a multi-purpose integrated product rather than several stand-alone products.

"A lot of these devices are networked. In the past a person would have sent a document to a printer whereas now they sending it to a copier to be printed," said Smith.

According to the report, sales in traditional roll-based thermal fax machines plummeted 36 per cent over the past 12 months, while plain paper faxes and multifunctional fax machines have risen 12 per cent and 45 per cent respectively.

The quarterly report was the first publicly issued study of industry trends in the copier and fax machine markets conducted on behalf of the OEIA.