The dawn of the A4 printer

Based on current sales and manufacturing trends observed by IDC over the course of last year within Canada, it is estimated that in the next few years, A4 multi-function printers (MFPs) will soon become the dominant technology of choice for consumers and businesses, therefore sending demand and sales for A3 printers to the wayside.

The terms A3 and A4 traditionally define a printer’s paper size. A4 is letter-sized paper that runs 8.5 by 11 inches, whereas A3 is tabloid-sized paper that measures 11 by 17 inches. According to IDC, A3 devices are more likely to be sold as networked versions of traditional stand-alone copier stations. On the other hand, A4 devices are more likely to be sold as laser printers that have additional capabilities such as scanning, copying and faxing. </p.

At a briefing held in Toronto, Ont. last month, Brad Hughes, a senior research analyst at IDC, said the Canadian MFP market has now reached a crossroads when it comes to A4 and A3 trends in the marketplace. Hughes notes several reasons as to why A4 printers are slowly beginning to threaten their counterparts.

“It’s about a $10,000 difference between an A4 and an A3 device,” Hughes said. “On the low end, an A4 machine can run at about $3,000, where on the other hand, for a high end A3 device, it can run to about $13,000.”

According to Hughes, there has been an influx between A4 and A3 machines over the past few years.

“In the market, what we’re beginning to see is a traditional A3 vendor is slowly becoming an A4 vendor,” Hughes said. “We predict that A4 devices will become dominant in the next few years.”

This forecast comes hot on the heels of IDC’s observation of last year’s sales with laser monochrome and colour MFPs, where A3 sales grew six per cent and A4 sales increased to 52 per cent.

“Customers are becoming much smarter now when it comes to the price of the machine even after they buy it,” Hughes said. “Things like [the costs of] ink and toner are starting to hit the forefront of the brain now.”

But even still, Hughes says there isn’t enough general awareness as to how much it actually costs to run and maintain these machines both from a consumer and commercial standpoint.

In order to help ensure A3 MFPs do not become lost amidst the growing demand for A4s, Hughes says proper education and raising awareness about an MFP’s total cost of ownership and features becomes key.

“It comes down to customer education and really letting the customer know what kind of solution they need in order to meet their demands,” Hughes said. When it comes to businesses, “partners need to know just as much as you. If you want to make the sale, you need to know all of this. And as a manufacturer, you want to make sure your partner knows all of this. The onus lies on both sides of the channel when it comes to properly educating the customer,” he said.

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Maxine Cheung
Maxine Cheung
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