According to research by International Data Corporation (IDC), the Western European printer and multifunction (MFP) market decreased 4,9% in unit terms compared with the same period a year ago, with negative performances in both inkjet and laser segments.

This gave a 4Q15 market figure of 6,5-million units — a decline of 333 000 units, largely due to the contraction in consumer printing. Revenues increased by 1%, but lasers were largely responsible for the value increase as inkjet revenues fell by 14,3%.

The laser markets were relatively decent in 4Q15, following the negative trend seen in the previous two quarters in Western Europe. Still the, combined printer and MFP laser shipments decreased 1% in 4Q15.

For the first time in almost three years, business inkjet growth stuttered and remained flat. However, MFP products showed the highest growth rate with a 2,7% increase, but business inkjet printers suffered a massive 29% decrease in 4Q15. In fact, business inkjet MFP represented 92,1% of business inkjet shipments in 4Q15 and this trend is unlikely to be reversed.

Overall, MFP products accounted for 82,1% of all shipments in Western Europe in 4Q15, higher than the 2015 average of 81%. Shipments of laser MFPs remained flat and inkjet MFPs decreased this quarter, but shipments were generally in line with IDC forecasts.

Growth in the business market, comprising laser and business inkjet devices, slowed down, but the value decreased by 3,5%. The highest value growth was shown in 45ppm+ color devices, a positive trend already observed last quarter and becoming stronger in 4Q15.

“Laser colour devices with a 45ppm+ speed are becoming increasingly popular and we have observed higher volume shipments and double digit growth in value. For the second consecutive quarter, we have seen a willingness for businesses to invest in higher speed and colour office equipment,” says Delphine Carnet, senior research analyst in IDC’s Western European Imaging, Hardware Devices, and Document Solutions group. “Newer technologies give the laser market the necessary edge to compete against attractively priced business inkjet technology.”

The overall Western European hardcopy market declined 4,9% year on year in 4Q15, with the inkjet decline greater than that for laser.

Few segments saw any significant growth, with A3 colour MFP devices showing the only real laser growth increase in Western Europe.

Most colour growth was from A3 MFP products, with only colour MFP products showing a double-digit increase.

Business inkjet growth stuttered this quarter, despite 2,7% growth for MFPs and a staggering 29% decrease for printers.