All-in-ones are all the rage

SMB Extra recently asked Bradley Hughes, senior analyst, hardcopy peripherals, IDC Canada, about the main MFP players and what they’re doing to spark interest from SMBs.

SMB Extra: Who are the leaders in this space when it comes to selling products to the SMB market?

Bradley Hughes: Here, HP is a leader and it is in most categories. They have a firm hold on the MFP inkjet market and then they’re very strong in colour laser MFP and monochrome laser MFP as well. In the first half of 2007, HP had about 44 per cent of the SMB market for MFPs, so they would be the top vendor. Then you have Brother at about 16 per cent, Canon at about 13 per cent and Lexmark at 12 per cent.

SMBE: Are MFPs taking a significant bite out of the standalone printer’s market share today?

BH: Definitely. Of inkjet machines sold now, 72 per cent of them are MFPs, so it’s the vast majority. This first half of this year it’s kind of been an even growth, but it’s still the majority of the market. In MFPs, we’ve seen monochrome lasers increase 4 or 5 per cent, not a huge number, but there’s still definitely a solid growth. The single function [machine] is dropping. Then in the colour laser world it’s taking off. It’s up about 50 per cent from last year. So it’s a smaller number [of total printers than inkjet] but they’re really doing well. A company like HP has four different colour laser MFPs under $1,000. It’s a blanketing of that market.

SMBE: Is it safe to say that SMBs are losing their fear of buying colour multifunction units?

BH: Our research indicates that small- and medium-sized businesses understand the need for colour more, so there’s less reticence to buy. They know it can make their business look bigger so they can compete with the big boys, and they know what value they can get out of it. I think they’re more aware of what they print and the after-sales cost of the hardware as well, whereas we see large businesses as a little more hesitant, probably because they don’t see the need to have everybody on colour. And then there’s that old bias of: ‘We had this colour laser machine and only one person had access to it because it was so expensive to run.’ And that’s not the case anymore but there’s still that ingrained bias against it.

SMBE: Are MFP manufacturers still trying to get the sizes of the units down, or do customers believe that at this point they’re small enough?

BH: Everybody’s working on making machines smaller and thinking about shelf or desk space. A company like Oki Data, for what they pack into them, their machines are quite small, so [the manufacturers] definitely look at that. And Xerox will turn around and say that they’ve reconfigured to save about 14 per cent more energy on their latest device. There are more environmental trends, as well, like recycling programs. Finally price continues to come down as more features are offered.

SMBE: Is there anything you can tell SMBs about how to choose an MFP? Are there any pitfalls?

BH: The most important thing is to know how much you print. That way you can make a better assessment of your needs. Obviously if you’re a high volume printer, you’ll tend to move toward a laser device which is better over the long term. If you want nice colour prints and you’re not printing a lot, get inkjet. You get a good cost per page there. It’s all going to depend on the individual company, but being more aware of what you’re printing and how much you’re printing and can lead to a lot of savings.

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