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Tue, Jul 06, 2004 - Page 12 News List

Canon hopes new looks will win it 18% inkjet market

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Canon Inc, vying to catch up with Hewlett-Packard Co (HP) and Seiko Epson Corp in the inkjet-printer market, aims to sell 25 percent more units and increase share with new-look models.

Canon is targeting sales of 15 million units this year by increasing sales of single-function and multifunction printers.

That would give it 18 percent market share, from last year's 15 percent, with the Tokyo-based company forecasting global inkjet printer sales of 84.1 million units this year.

The market is growing as people shift to multifunctional mo-dels from traditional single-function designs. Canon expects multifunctional printers will account for 37 percent of overall inkjet printers this year, up from 17 percent in 2002.

"Selling 15 million units this year is achievable, but it will be difficult if they don't reduce prices," said Shinji Ito, who helps manage the equivalent of US$9.2 billion in equities at Tokyo-based Fuji Investment Management Co.

Dell Japan Inc, the Japanese unit of Texas-based Dell Inc, the world's biggest personal computer maker, last month began selling printers over the Internet and telephone at prices about 30 percent below comparable products sold by Japanese rivals.

Canon's new models "might not even look like printers," Yuji Sugie, senior general manager of inkjet product operations said in an interview.

"According to our survey, 50 percent of the consumers choose printers on design. Consumers place importance on design first, then price and product specification," Sugie.

California-based HP is the leader in the inkjet printer market including multifunctional types, with 44 percent share last year, according to researcher IDC. It led Japan's Seiko Epson with 20 percent, followed by Kentucky-based Lexmark International Inc, with 16 percent. Canon, the world's fourth-largest seller of inkjet printers, sold 12 million printers last year in a global market of 80.5 million units.

"Hewlett-Packard is shifting its resources and development to multifunctional printers at a high speed," Sugie said.

"However, we are focusing both on single-function and multifunction models. The single-function inkjet printer market is falling, but our shipments are growing," he said.

There are areas where Canon "doesn't have to compete with multifunctional printers, such as single-function printers focusing on printing photographs," he said. Canon's market share of single-function inkjet printers will rise to about 25 percent this year from last year's 20 percent, he said.

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