Cost of colour vs mono set to converge

Contrary to its perceived expense, the cost of colour printing is declining.  If it continues at the current annual compound rate it could converge with mono, creating a boom in the colour printer market, according to data from office technology specialist Brother UK.

Over the past five years, colour has been steadily falling in cost, while mono has remained broadly constant.  If trend levels continue, the two price points of colour and mono printing and could meet in 2015. 

This shift in the relative cost of mono and colour printing will present the channel with a 99.6million market opportunity to convert mono customers to colour.*

Phil Jones, sales and marketing director, said, Every firm could benefit from a colour printer, but the colour market is not as large due to the higher total cost of ownership compared to mono. 

The data is surprising and it is arguable that the two costs might never meet due to the added technical complexity in the manufacture of colour products. However, how many times has technology surprised us all? i-Pads, miniature microprocessors and nanotechnology are all things we could only dream of ten years ago, so why shouldnt printers spring a shock on us too? Our new product development costs are continuing in this downward path, so maybe this trend could be right.  We will wait and see.
The size of the existing mono market illustrates the opportunity this could present for resellers.  At some point, these customers will need to renew their equipment.  There is a proactive selling opportunity here, where the channel can contact these customers ahead of when they would have otherwise made a purchase, explain to them the benefits of switching to a colour machine and demonstrate the decrease in cost.  It is also a chance to educate the customer about the need to regularly review older technology and equipment and allows resellers to change the nature of their relationship with them.

Tony Tarnowski, one of Brothers technology experts, provided further reasons why the price of colour has become more cost effective.  He said. Apart from demand for colour increasing and bringing economies of scale, the price of drums and toner has fallen over time and this has made colour printing more cost effective.  These improvements are coupled to the fact that machines no longer need to use the full colour palette to make black, which has in turn reduced the cost per page.

Other innovations have played into the hands of colour too, such as the fact that four pass printing is now a thing of the past, meaning that colour printing is now as quick as mono.  The machines are also now very compact, which opens up the colour laser market to the home office market.

*According to Context data for the financial year (April 09 March 10) the total mono laser market (including printer and MFC) was worth 99.6 million.

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