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Commentary: Short-lived inkjet success

Gartner says companies will begin to rein in runaway purchasing of inkjets and consumables in favor of more efficient methods of printing--or simply just viewing--documents.

By Ken Weilerstein and Jim Lundy, Gartner Analysts

The increase in printer hardware sales is likely the result of strong demand for low-end, inkjet printers.

See news story:
Race to low end may trip printer makers
Primarily targeted toward consumers, these lower-priced printers are also finding their way into companies as swarms of employees purchase them for individual use--often duplicating printing capacity.

However, as companies open their eyes to the scale of this problem, they will begin to rein in runaway purchasing of inkjet devices and supplies in favor of more efficient laser-based desktop printers or shared color workgroup printers, which have a higher price tag but are less expensive to operate.

Vendors, such as the Lexmark International Group, that are experiencing strong printer unit sales may be enjoying the fruits of a corporate purchasing trend that is out of step with a recessionary economy and its associated cost-cutting measures.

Consumable sales may be decreasing because businesses and individuals are realizing the high cost of cartridges and are curtailing their printing to reduce expenses.

A long-term trend that printer vendors must face is the increasing popularity of viewing documents online instead of printing them. Businesses are moving toward less reliance on printed documents. Although this trend will likely not impact vendors until more technological improvement is made to the screens that display such documents, it represents an obstruction in the road ahead that vendors must heed.

(For a related commentary on a printer deal between the Lexmark International Group and IBM, see

Entire contents, Copyright ? 2001 Gartner, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.