Overall, SA has unsophisticated printing habits. Simple features such as duplex printing (printing on both sides of a page) as well as printing in draft format are not common.
This is according to Mark Hiller, country GM of Lexmark International SA, which recently ran a survey on the Mail & Guardian Web site, in conjunction with ITWeb, to get a sense of the local print market. More than 50% of respondents were from SMEs.
The survey indicated that inkjet printers were the most common, and in SA, the inkjet market is two to three times the size of the laser printer market in terms of units shipped. The value of inkjets, however, is much lower than laser printers, Hiller noted.
Monotone printing, i.e. black and white printing, is still a common type of printing, Hiller says. It is also the cheapest, which is likely the reason why monotone printing is preferred to colour printing. Colour printing, however, is not necessarily expensive, but it is an impactful medium and should be used where appropriate, he adds.
The general trend, says Hiller, is that if it's not broken, it should not be replaced; 39% of respondents only replace printers when they stop working, he highlights. Printers do not have a shelf life, per se; however, they do experience wear and tear. Printers are both mechanical and electrical, thus their reliability may decline if they print more than the recommended average usage over time. On average, a printer should be replaced every three to five years, depending on use, he says.
Age is not the only reason to replace a printer. A company's requirements may change, resulting in a need for more functions that make users more efficient in the office environment. The ability of printers to punch holes into documents, for example, is one feature most respondents (22%) would find useful. This feature is available on Lexmark's “finishing” units, which are mostly used in organisations with high-volume printing needs, Hiller says.
Some printers also have stapling, folding and offset stacking abilities, he continues, yet they are also mostly used in environments that print higher volumes. Some 20% of respondents indicated that Web-enabled functions would be an attractive feature in printers.
The survey also found that a large percentage of users do not recycle their ink cartridges. “Environmental consciousness is not at the same level as Western Europe, but it's improving,” Hiller says. “The main issue with awareness is that customers do not expect to see this kind of information, and thus do not take note of it, although we do communicate directly to them via the packaging,” he emphasises. This is especially true in the case of inkjet printers, where recycling information is boldly noted on the packaging, he says.
Samuel Mosedame received a Lexmark Genesis S815 printer for participating in the survey.