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The Evolution of Retail Value per Image in Digital Color Printing

According to CAP Ventures' 2000-2005 U.S. Print On Demand Market Forecast, print volumes in the digital color market are increasing by about 25% annually. This increase is driven in part by a 6% year-to-year drop in the average retail value of a digitally printed image.
CAP Ventures' U.S. Print On Demand Market Forecast (2000-2005) includes information on the retail value of print for a variety of product categories. It is interesting to see how these values change over time.

The figure below provides the retail value per image for each of the color categories covered in CAP Ventures' On Demand forecast. For comparison, it also includes production black & white, a class that includes high-speed cut-sheet and web fed digital printers. (Xerox's DocuTech Production Publisher is an example of a production black & white device.) The retail value per image for a digitally printed black & white page is approximately three cents and is expected to stay in that neighborhood for the next five years. It is not expected to change very much because there are a lot of black & white devices in the market, the technology has been around for a while, and the pricing for those pages is competitive but stable.

You might think that a color page would cost about four times more than a black & white page. In practice, however, color pages may be twenty or thirty times more expensive. Part of this is due to the complexity of color, but other factors are at work as well. From a technology perspective, digital color printing is relatively early in its development cycle. In the next few years, decreases in consumable and service costs, combined with efficiencies associated with automated digital print workflows, should bring a significant drop in the retail value per image.

When analyzing CAP Ventures' data for retail value per image, it is clear that the price/value for production black & white digital printing, spot color digital printing, and even direct-to-press printing are all relatively stable between 2000 and 2005. For the same time period, the retail price/value for convenience color and production color digital printing are dropping precipitously. As the retail value per image drops, more print buyers will find that they can afford color, particularly short-run, on-demand, and variable color. At the same time, service providers will want to drive their devices to high print volumes where the devices are most profitable. Therefore, much of the success of the on-demand color market will depend on reductions in the prices of services and consumables, which will in turn lower the prices that service providers can charge.

To learn more about CAP Ventures' U.S. Print On Demand Market Forecast, please contact Alison Hipp at , ext. 126 or via e-mail at .  


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