Worldwide page volume generated on home and office digital hardcopy devices decreased to 2,98-trillion in 2012 from 3,03-trillion in 2011, reflecting a year-on-year decline of 1,5%, according to new research from International Data Corporation (IDC). The volume contraction was primarily due to declining pages printed on laser devices in developed economies.
Page volumes in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region recorded a 2,3% decline from 2011; the Middle East and Africa (MEA) was the only sub-region to post page volume growth. Western Europe (WE) and Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) recorded declines of 3,1% and 3,2%, respectively. Pages generated in Western Europe still represented over 63% of EMEA total page volume.

In total, almost 2-million pages were printed in EMEA every minute. In other words, every minute in 2012, almost 17,5 football pitches were covered by paper.

“A recession economy and slow business activity, tightening budgets and pressure to cut costs, digitisation of document workflows, increasing adoption of managed print services (MPS), and environmental concerns across Europe were the key factors behind the page volume decline in EMEA last year,” says Ilona Stankeova, research director for Imaging Printing and Document Solutions, IDC CEMA.

Recent research conducted by IDC reveals that the fast-growing adoption of tablets and smartphones (TS/SP) is not currently a factor in the page volume decline. The reason for this is that most handheld mobile devices are currently purchased by home users, who contribute only around 5% of total page volume (generated at home and office).

In addition, the IDC study Mobile Device Users versus Non-Users: Print, Scan, Document Management, 2012 indicates that TS/SP owners are printing, on average, more than non-TS/SP owners. TS/SP owners have indicated that they are inclined to print more if they have applications that allow them to do so easily.

Moreover, TS/SP owners have a greater preference than non-owners for reading documents in printed format than on a PC or TS/SP. That said, whether end users print or not, or how much they print, seems to be a characteristic that is determined more by lifestyle and work habits, as well as the ability to print from a mobile device.

“The perception of the negative impact of TS/SP on overall page volume is today just a myth. Actually, tablet devices are killing the PC/notebook business, but not printing volumes,” says Mitri Roufka, research director for Imaging Printing and Document Solutions, IDC CEMA.

IDC believes that two key factors really determine the need to print and page volume dynamics: The first is economic conditions and subsequent business activity (end users report higher numbers of pages printed when business performance is better).

The second is the need to print certain documents and process them on paper (due to different legal requirements, low adoption of electronic document workflow and solutions and so on).

“This means that, in the long-term future, the most important factor that could significantly impact page volume is the shift of document processing from paper to electronic format; which is a trend already taking place, particularly in the large business segment,” according to Roufka.

IDC expects that EMEA page volume will continue to decline slowly in the future, dragged down by increasing adoption of document digitalisation and workflows.

MPS adoption in Western Europe and in some of the maturing markets in CEMA will have a negative impact as well, but will be limited to large organisations, as SMBs are mainly potential customers for BPS contracts. Africa and CIS countries represent the greatest opportunity for installed base and page volume growth in the EMEA region.

“Page volumes from mobile devices are expected to grow, and thus represent an opportunity for vendors, as over 50% of pages printed from TS/SP are pages that users would not have printed from a PC.

“However, TS/SP users are reporting a need for better tools and applications to help them print from those devices. Over 50% of smartphone users and 35% of tablet users indicate that they do not know how to print from their devices. This is a real opportunity that manufacturers need to address,” says Stankeova.

In 2012, the overall installed base and page volume of colour laser devices in EMEA both increased. Page volume generated by colour laser devices grew over 12% year on year, with most printing done on MFPs.

Mono laser devices represented 82,1% of the total HCP installed base in EMEA and almost 74% of total page volume generated by laser devices. Both figures represent a year-on-year decline, as users have been migrating to colour devices. Average monthly page volume (AMPV) for mono laser devices was approximately 40% lower than for colour laser devices.

While the installed base of inkjet devices declined by more than 7% from 2011, the page volume increased due to the growing share of inkjet devices dedicated to business use. However, inkjet devices’ contribution to overall page volume remains very low, at less than 8% of total pages generated.

HP retained the number one position for overall EMEA page volume share, being one of few vendors to increase overall page volume in 2012. Canon and Xerox held on to second and third place, respectively.

The structure of the installed base is critical; a large installed base does not necessarily translate into a large page volume. Vendors with a smaller installed base, but in printing-intensive segments like midrange laser MFPs, tend to have a higher page share than vendors with a large installed base of inkjet or entry-level laser devices.