Printing and photocopying businesses face “challenging” times says the market leader HP Inc. CEO Dion Weisler in November 2016 after sales shrunk by 12%. In 2017 HP stemmed the downturn due in part to the $1+ Billion acquisition on Samsung Printers but this may only serve to delay the effects by resuscitating a declining business model.
Market conditions aren’t just affecting HP in the copier and printer industry. Ricoh, once the darling’s of the lucrative photocopier industry announced the loss of 4000 jobs by 2019. Xerox in its doomed takeover by FujiFilms was preparing 10,000 job cuts and HP themselves are cutting up to 5000 jobs by the end of 2019. Of the market leaders in printer and photocopiers, only Canon has yet to announce restructuring but have reported flat growth in its business printer market for the first quarter of 2018.
Technology and changing market conditions have fuelled the decline of the copier and printer hardware market. Consolidation of technology now means multifunctional devices fulfil the role of stand-alone printers, copiers, scanners and fax machines. This has meant fewer units are sold by manufacturers as customers look to save costs and reduce space by purchasing all-in-one MFP machines. However, it is changing market conditions that have most affected sales. There has been a shift in all aspects of our lives to digital communication and the internet. People now communicate via email and apps and so printing has become old-fashioned. An older generation may have printed their digital communication to read but for Millennial’s this is unheard of. As communication has become increasingly digitalised so the advertising has followed. Printed advertising is dying out, replaced by online and in-app advertising.
3D printing is the only market expected to see growth in the next three to five years as 3D printing looks to disrupt manufacturing. 3D printers offer a variety of materials such as plastic, metal and organic and could potentially replace production lines. Until then expect tough market conditions for the printer and copier industry.