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Featured:     European Coverage     Production Inkjet Analysis

Value in Ink Jet Addressing Market Shifting Toward Higher End Mailing Systems

Monday, May 01, 2006

Press release from the issuing company

Hanover, MA…April 2006 -- In 2005 sales of ink jet mail printers showed higher growth than expected. One of the reasons for this higher-than-expected growth is aggressive hardware price reductions by some manufacturers to drive up unit sales. Discounting of tabletop inkjet printers is opening up the in-plant/office environments to users who believe they can more cost effectively handle their mailings in-house rather than outsourcing to a mail/lettershop. Aggressive discounting of tabletop systems by large manufacturers has made it difficult for smaller manufacturers to gain share and has caused them to shift their attention to developing higher-end systems, with 6 to 12 ink jet heads per printer, which are mostly incorporated into mailtables targeted at mail/lettershops. Mailtables are much more expensive than the tabletop units and because there is not one dominant manufacturer, tend to be a more lucrative market at the moment. According to Marco Boer, consulting partner at I.T. Strategies, “In the U.S. lettershops have shown high interest in this new generation of mailtables and a solid economy is encouraging many to consider upgrading their equipment for the first time in years. In Europe, there seems to be a bit of a lag in purchasing considerations. In Europe, buyers tend to be more pragmatic and to some degree the confidence in the local economies is lagging behind the U.S.” The North American market accounts for an estimated two-thirds of the unit volume shipped worldwide in 2005 and showed almost double the growth of the European market. According to Boer, “Some of this growth can be attributed to the residual effects of the Do-Not-Call list that went into effect in 2003/2004. Overall mail piece volume for direct mail is up 4% [10 billion pieces] from 2003 to 2005 according to the U.S. Postal Service annual report. That's a significant amount of pieces, which drove the need for higher productivity mailtables benefiting virtually every mailtable printer manufacturer.” For 2005, I.T. Strategies is projecting that worldwide organic growth will be in the 3-5% range, tracking the growth of the worldwide economy and indicating that the mail printer market is starting to reach maturity. Technology development will continue to drive opportunities. Ink jet printhead systems are getting more capable and in some ways easier to deploy as the ink jet head technology suppliers incorporate more turnkey electronics into their offerings. There are indications that ink jet mailtable vendors are leveraging these benefits and are exploring new application areas outside mailing as they look to future growth. According to Boer, “The future looks bright for mailtable ink jet print systems, with some users upgrading from tabletop to more capable mailtable systems. In addition, perhaps some day we will see mailtable printer vendors offer folding carton print systems to a completely different market than they are currently selling to.”




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