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Where tablets go, reams of printer paper will follow.
Today, a new research from IDC dashed the hopes of technologists that were banking on tablets and smartphones to cut paper and ink consumption. "The share of users printing from their smartphones and tablets will increase dramatically if users have their way, and the need to enable print and educate users how to print is clear," said the research firm in a statement.
IDC's analysis suggests that a blistering tablet market and the growing acceptance of bring your own device (BYOD) programs in business settings will result in bigger printing bills for enterprises. And that's good news for printer vendors like HP, Epson and Lexmark.
In a survey of 800 smartphone and tablet users -- mostly male, young, high-income and big travelers, according to IDC -- the majority of respondents envision themselves printing from their mobile devices over the next few years. Currently, nearly 50 percent do not print or do not want to print. That number will decline to just 25 percent in 2015, meaning that 75 percent will soon be sending print jobs from their iPads or Android handsets.
Even when they're in front of their PCs, mobile users are doing their part to keep the smell of toner in the air. "Smartphone and tablet users are more likely than non-users to print 16 of 20 business applications from their PCs," informed IDC.
Overall, PC print volume will decline but demand from mobile users is expected to more than compensate for the drop, informed Angele Boyd, president and general manager of IDC Imaging/Output Document Solutions. "While total U.S. mobile pages are expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 12 percent during the 2012-16 forecast period, non-mobile pages will decline 5 percent," said Boyd.
Enterprises are likelier to bear the brunt of increased printing costs. IDC discovered that mobile users at large and midsized companies print more than at small businesses. Similarly, business smartphone and tablet users are more likely to print than personal users.
IDC predicts that the uptick in mobile printing will favor the makers of laser multi-function printers (MFPs) and inkjet printers. Printer makers are already getting their ducks in a row. In the wake of the explosive iPhone and iPad sales, printer companies like HP have responded by supporting and promoting wireless printing technologies like AirPrint.
Their efforts could accelerate mobile printing. The research group reported that a large percentage of mobile users currently do not know how to print from their devices. A large share of users also said that their companies have yet to enable mobile printing, reported IDC.