Printer Makers Brace Up For New Challenges

New Delhi: | Updated: Dec 23 2002, 05:30am hrs
Multi-Functional Devices (MFD) are emerging as the fastest growing IT peripheral segment with sales growth of 100 per cent this calender year. MFDs, which are functionally printers, scanners, copiers and fax rolled into one, are expected to post sales of Rs 250 crore in calender 2002, according to IDC (India) Ltds initial assessment.

MFD, which is also called All-In-One in some markets like the US, is a new segment within the IT peripherals market. In the US, All-In-Ones share has already jumped from five per cent of the overall printer market three years ago to around 15 per cent currently. According to industry projections, in the next five-seven years the entire stand-alone printing market in the US

is expected to give way to MFDs as manufacturers achieve economies of scale and prices come crashing down.

Marketers in India are bracing up to meet the new development as MFDs could cannibalise the sales of stand-alone products.

Says Canon director and general manager (consumer imaging & information division) Alok Bharadwaj: In 2002, our colour-inkjet MFD sales grew by 329 per cent. Our target for 2003 is to double the sales of 2,000 inkjet MFD units.

Adds Mr Bharadwaj: Since inkjet MFDs are an amalgamation of three products, users are coming from three different directions. So far in India, weve been seeing users coming from the fax segment, in future well see the trigger coming from the inkjet printer buyers.

Says Hewlett-Packard country category head (imaging printing group) Tarunjeet Sarao: H-P has undertaken key initatives worldwide to make a serious impact in the MFD sphere. In India, weve increased our MFD portfolio two times over last year. Next year we plan to launch MFDs which will be more solution-specific.

He adds: The definition of MFDs will change further as more vendors invest in enhancing applications and bringing new functionalities like document management system under the MFD concept.

Industry observers say that MFDs attractiveness to SME (small and medium enterprises) and SOHO (small office/home office) segments lies in its value-for-money proposition and space-saving convenient features. A single MFD with scanner costs around Rs 18,000 while a stand-alone colour-printer is available at Rs 4,000, a colour-fax at Rs 10,000, a scanner at Rs 4,000, and a black-and-white copier at Rs 30,000.

Added to this space-saving and value appeal of MFDs is a steady fall in the prices of MFDs, which would encourage many first-time fax and printer buyers to opt for MFDs with nominal additional cost.

Notes IDC analyst Mr Ajay Sindhwani: The MFD market has seen average selling value come down by over 50 per cent over last year.

Currently, in terms of volumes, the laserjet category accounts for 40 per cent of the MFD market while inkjet 60 per cent. Valuewise, laserjet accounts for 80-85 per cent and the remaining inkjet.

Says Mr Bharadwaj: The prices of MFDs are steadily coming down. Weve just launched a range of four inkjet MFDs at price-points of Rs 18,000, Rs 20,000, Rs 32,000 and Rs 42,000 and two laserjet MFDs at Rs 60,000 and Rs 75,000. Next year, each of the existing MFD products will be replaced with lower-priced options.