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HP leads in soft printer market

Printer makers ship more units in the third quarter than in the same period last year, but see fewer dollars amid stiff price competition.

Printer makers shipped more units in the third quarter than in the same period last year, but saw fewer dollars amid stiff price competition, according to a new report from Gartner Dataquest.

Printer revenue totaled $1.7 billion in the third quarter, down 11 percent from the same period a year ago, the market researcher said. Unit shipments reached 5.82 million in the quarter, up 5.8 percent from a year earlier.

Hewlett-Packard held the top spot in market share with 52.6 percent. Lexmark International Group was second with 21.8 percent, followed by Epson, which had 13.9 percent, and Canon, with 7.7 percent.

Among consumers, color printer shipments got a boost from the growing popularity of digital photography, according to Gartner Dataquest. Those gains, however, were offset by weak spending among businesses, which view color printers as a luxury item.

About 96,000 color printers were shipped to businesses in the third quarter. That's up 49 percent from a year ago but is still a small portion of total printer shipments.

With a competitive market, Gartner Dataquest said incumbent vendors have an advantage because they have the market share and revenue from supplies such as ink.

HP has upped the ante recently, announcing a host of color inkjet printers designed for businesses and consumers. Meanwhile, Dell Computer has teamed up with Lexmark to offer Dell-branded printers and ink supplies.