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Is the Workgroup Copier Business Model at Risk? The A4 vs. A3 Tipping Point

A4 MFPs Challenging A3 Equipment

A new study from InfoTrends revealed that the growing success of the workgroup A4 MFPs (multi-function peripherals capable of 8.5” x 11” output) is challenging the traditional business built around A3 equipment (copiers and MFPs capable of 11” x 17” output).

Workgroup A4 MFPs—shared devices mostly in the 31 to 69 PPM speed range—are increasing their role in the mix of equipment at many U.S. companies that have long relied on A3 copiers and MFPs. These companies are replacing convenience copy and print pages from A3-size equipment with output from the newer, smaller A4-size MFPs, and that some are even replacing A3 equipment with the smaller format A4 MFPs.

We believe that the role of workgroup A4 MFPs will grow strongly, pulling A4/letter size pages away from A3 copiers and MFPs, thereby weakening the demand for these larger devices. A3 devices will remain vital in the U.S., but the push by major suppliers of workgroup A4 alternatives is having an effect on decision-making regarding office equipment purchases at U.S. companies. Because of this impact and other factors, A3-format technology will represent a declining share of the installed base of U.S. office equipment over the next several years.

Survey Highlights

According to the new study, 34% of survey respondents indicated that their companies had bought A4 MFPs for workgroup use over the past 18 months. The two vertical industries claiming the highest ownership of these devices were financial services and manufacturing.

Figure 1: Level of Involvement with A4 MFP Technology in Total Sample

The project’s dealer and vendor interviews, supported by survey data, indicated that enterprises and medium-sized firms are adopting A4 MFPs at the quickest rate. In fact, A4-size workgroup MFP shipments accounted for 18% of the 372,000 total multifunctional units that shipped in 2006 in the 31 to 69 ppm speed range; in 2010, that share is expected to grow to about 27%.

Color document output is a growth area for A3 as well as A4 MFPs. For traditional copier vendors, the A3 color market will remain healthy, as it will be driven by a growing need for fast-turnaround and in-house production of color marketing collateral, AEC drawings, and other print output in that format.

Corporate policies increasingly favor workgroup A4 MFPs over traditional copiers. 21% of survey respondents stated that their companies have policies in place to replace black & white console copiers with shared printers or MFPs; another 9% reported that their companies plan to implement such policies.

Among companies that have acquired workgroup A4 MFPs, 40% stated that the purchases were replacing equipment, and of those, 60% indicated that the equipment replaced could copy or print up to A3 size paper.

Figure 2: Nature of Workgroup A4 MFP Purchase


The displacement of A3 copiers and MFPs is pervasive yet subtle, but it’s real. Workgroup A4 MFPs are cropping up at companies of all sizes, cutting into the output volumes of A3-format equipment, and even displacing A3 copiers. A3 copier and MFP manufacturers need to recognize this change now as workgroup A4 MFPs become more influential in this competitive market.

The preceding is an excerpt from InfoTrends’ study entitled “Is the Workgroup Copier Business Model at Risk? The A4 vs. A3 Tipping Point.”  To learn more about the study or to make a purchase, contact Alison Hipp at +1 ext. 126 or .

Copyright © 2007 InfoTrends. All rights reserved. Reproduction or reuse of InfoTrends materials is strictly prohibited without prior written consent. If you are interested in referencing InfoTrends’ content, please submit your request to .


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