LEXINGTON, Ky.--Dec. 12, 2001--Despite the immense popularity of "paperless'' media such as e-mail and the Internet, a new study by Lexmark International, Inc. reveals that the need for printing remains as strong as ever - and is growing. Results of the study also offer details on home and office printing and the future of printing technologies and applications, including public preferences for wireless printing, while dispelling a number of popular misconceptions about printing trends.
Myth No. 1: Online technology is the death knell of paper
The survey helped further dispel the myth of the "paperless office.'' To the contrary, the Internet and its seemingly boundless information sites have led to an increase in pages printed both at home and at the office, with ever higher numbers of pages being printed closer to the end user (a phenomenon known as "distributed printing'').
According to Lexmark's study, over 90 percent of respondents with a printer at home print Internet content, and three out of four respondents print from the Internet while at the office (see figures 1 and 2). Moreover, while nearly all respondents were printing Internet content, one in ten respondents report printing from the Internet at home everyday. Nearly twice that percentage prints out Internet content at the office on a daily basis. Additionally, more than 40 percent of respondents print from the Internet at home at least on a weekly basis.
According to the Lexmark survey, the most commonly printed Internet content is e-mail, followed by research, news, children's activities and entertainment (see figure 3).
The Lexmark survey also revealed age differences in the content printed from the Internet:
* Respondents over 55 are printing e-mail at twice the rate of those aged 18-44.
* However, 18-34 year-olds are three times as likely to print entertainment-related content compared to those over 45.
Myth No. 2: On-screen content trumps hardcopy content
Futurists have speculated that computer users eventually will print less and rely more heavily on the computer screen to view content. However, when Lexmark asked why people print from the Internet, answers suggest that dependence on hardcopy output will continue despite the evolution of screen technologies (see figure 4):
* Almost one out of three cited a need for hard copy to archive information.
* The need to share information with friends, family and co-workers compels a significant number to print.
* Others said they print from the Internet simply because they "prefer reading hard copies.''
The Lexmark survey also found that younger respondents tended to report less of a need to archive hard copies of material. Fifty-six percent of 45-54 year-olds reported that they print pages off of the Internet due to the need for hard copies for their archives, as compared to 42 percent of those 35-44 and only 33 percent of those 18-34 who print off of the Internet for the same purpose.
Myth No. 3: Businesses are satisfied with the functionality of their existing fleet of printers
When it comes to the business environment, enterprise printing is taking on a new "hue'' with the rise of multifunction products and the popularity of color output.
Lexmark asked which single feature users would most like to see from their office printer. Dazzling color, increased speed anddocument scanning were the features users coveted most. Desire for added functionality like scanning supports research by industry group Lyra Research, which estimates that multifunction product shipments worldwide will top six million by 2005 (compared to little more than three million in 1999).
The preference for color output mirrors global trends that indicate increasing use of color in the workplace as color printers become faster and more affordable. According to industry analyst group IDC, sales of desktop color laser printers increased 16 percent from 1999 to 2000, and are estimated to represent more than 20 percent of all laser printer sales in 2004 (compared to less than three percent in 1999).
Myth No. 4: Mobile technology negates the need for printing
But printing is not limited to the home or office. The Lexmark survey hints that markets exist for public access to standalone wireless printers, which would allow users to print from PDAs, laptop computers and other portable devices. Preferred sites for such printers are libraries, airports and shopping malls and grocery stores.
In the home, more than one third of respondents would be interested in a standalone printer that would allow constant, PC-free access to the Internet. Almost 70 percent of respondents would place such a device in the study or den, followed by the family room and the master bedroom.
About the survey
The survey, which was conducted by the opinion and market research firm SWR Worldwide, included 500 respondents who use computer printers both at home and in the workplace on a regular basis. The survey's margin of error was plus or minus 4.4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.
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