The Middle East and Africa (MEA) region has suffered a plunge in hardcopy peripherals (HCP) shipments following the intensification of the global economic crisis in late 2008 and early 2009.

 IDC's Middle East and Africa Quarterly HCP Tracker shows that most countries in the region have been hit hard by the downturn, recording considerable year-on-year declines in HCP shipments in the first quarter of 2009.
Shipments of HCP devices to the MEA region fell year on year by more than 600 000 units in the first quarter, to stand at 1,7-million shipments totaling $492,7-million.
While declines were noticeable across all product segments, single-function machines (both copiers and printers) were the worst hit.
According to IDC, this trend has been driven by an increase in end-user awareness of the various benefits of multifunctional peripherals (MFPs), which include improved space utilisation and convenience, ease of use, increased efficiencies, added functionality, and cost savings – further fueled by the rapid decline in MFP prices.
"Most MEA countries tracked by IDC recorded falling HCP shipments in the first quarter of 2009," says Naser Sha'sha'a, program manager for Imaging & Hardcopy Devices at IDC MEA. "Although some countries were more affected by the crisis than others, a few select countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Algeria, actually experienced growth.
"Turkey, however, posted the region's biggest year-on-year decline in the first quarter, a continuation of a trend that became noticeable in the fourth quarter of 2008. The government has quickly implemented various initiatives to curb the downturn, among them a 10% reduction in VAT on various consumer products, effective in the second quarter."
Some vendors have attempted to overcome the challenges presented by the economic downturn by addressing the price-sensitive nature of the region's market, while others have responded to declining margins and reduced levels of business by adding value to their hardware sales through the provision of services such as fleet management, helpdesk support, device usage monitoring, and consumables replenishment.
"We certainly see the move to consulting and managed services provisions in the HCP market as a positive development," says Sha'sha'a. "IDC has been advising vendors and their partners to present such an approach as a major cost-saver for their customers rather than an added expense. The aim should be to optimise the number of devices/brands in the customer site to meet the organization's various print/copy requirements, while also reducing the total cost of ownership."