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Dead-tree format's demise is slow, steady

Research note further documents the printer's steady decline -- which is good news on at least a couple of fronts.

Printers are suffering the same fate as hardcover books -- which is not only good for the environment but maybe for your state of mind.

In a research note titled "Dead-tree format is dying," Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore illustrated the decline of paper-spewing printers with plenty of stats (see graph below).

June quarter results for printer suppliers were "particularly weak as Canon, Epson, Lexmark and Xerox all missed expectations," according to Whitmore.

Canon, Epson, Hewlett-Packard, and Lexmark over the past 10 quarters show combined supplies and hardware revenues declining about 6 percent year-over-year in the second quarter of this year, Deutsche Bank said.

That's not all. Paper sales are trending down too. North American paper shipments of free sheet cut-size paper (A3 and A4 paper for printers/copiers) declined about 6 percent year-to-year the second quarter.

"Paper demand peaked in 2006 and has declined every year subsequently between 3-10 percent year over year and is now tracking 20 percent+ below the 2006 the peak," according to Whitmore.

Equipment and Supplies revenue trend for major printer vendors.
Equipment and Supplies revenue trend for major printer vendors. Deutsche Bank

All of this is attributed to low-cost connected devices like tablets and smartphones. "Simply put, the content that was once printed for distribution or portability is now simply being distributed or shared electronically," Whitmore wrote.

And it's not just the consumer inkjet market. "From [a corporate] enterprise standpoint, printing is increasingly a cost to be managed lower rather than area of spend or investment," he said.

But environment-friendly discussions aside, the less printing one does, the better off one may be psychologically.

Printers are pretty much universally despised. Comic strips, movies, and countless tech support forum threads have been devoted to the perils of printing.

So, the more alternatives to printer frustration, perhaps the better.