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Hardcopy Peripherals Market Slips Year-to-Year in Q3, But Gains Sequentially

IDC: In tough times, vendors are rewarding partners that can help them gain or retain share.

When looking at mature markets in normal times, analysts scoff at sequential gains, looking instead for evidence of growth compared to the same quarter a year before.

Such are the times that even as they survey the venerable printer and peripherals market, experienced market observers now find cause for celebration in gains from one quarter to the next.

In its quarterly tracker of hardcopy peripherals, Framingham, Mass.-based market research firm IDC trumpeted the sector's 11.6 percent sequential growth in shipments for the third quarter compared to the second quarter as good news.

The more traditional measure remained weak, with the 27 million unit shipments in the third quarter of 2009 representing a 15 percent drop from the third quarter of 2008.

The strongest subsectors of the market, sequentially, were monochrome laser printers and multifunction peripheral (MFP) units, both of which saw a 14 percent increase over the second quarter.

Meanwhile, the color laser segment declined half as fast in the third quarter compared to the previous year, dropping 11 percent, as it had in the second quarter, when it fell 22 percent compared to the year-ago period. That dubious improvement made color laser units "the best performing subtechnology in 3Q09 in terms of year-over-year growth," IDC's early December research press release stated.

Phuong Hang, program manager for the IDC tracker, noted that the tough times for the peripherals industry have meant more attention for reseller partners in some cases. "We are also seeing an increasing number of vendors putting additional effort into building their channel relationships, including boosting their incentive rewards for the best-performing channels," Hang said in a statement.

No matter the economic environment, the hardcopy peripherals market remains HP's to lose, according to IDC's figures. Globally, HP saw its market share fall 4 percentage points compared to the year-ago quarter, but the Palo Alto, Calif.-based firm still owned 41 percent of the market. Despite market share gains for Canon Inc. in the quarter, Canon remains a distant second place with 19 percent of the global market. Rounding out the top five hardcopy peripherals vendors worldwide were Seiko Epson Corp. (14 percent), Brother International Corp. (6 percent) and Samsung Group (5 percent), with other vendors holding the remaining 16 percent of market share. Other than Canon, the only member of the big five to gain share in the quarter was Samsung.

In the United States, HP's position is even stronger. HP's share of 52 percent dropped very little from the 53 percent it held during the same quarter in 2008.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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