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The Year in Review

(March 2009) posted on Tue Apr 21, 2009

Greene offers a summary of trends in the digital market during 2008 and makes some predictions about what the industry can expect in 2009.

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By Tim Greene

There was some talk at SGIA that HP’s Latex ink technology is still basically a solvent ink technology. HP’s representatives vigorously deny this and are more than willing to provide technical information to refute that opinion to anyone who requests it. Basically, there is a co-solvent in the ink, but it is the same level of co-solvent that is in the water-based inks HP uses in its DesignJet aqueous inkjet printers. There are other durable aqueous inkjet printing solutions and systems that will compete with HP’s Latex printing systems in what amounts to a new equipment category in 2009.

Looking ahead
InfoTrends publishes market forecasts every year about the wide-format-digital market; hardware, ink, and media volumes; and value projections. Right now we project the worldwide market for wide-format graphics will grow from $55 billion in 2008 to $67 billion in 2012 for a compound annual growth rate of 6.0%. So we still see wide-format digital as a growing market with profitable growth and some dynamic emerging applications.

That said, just about every one of the vendors that I spoke to reported that printer shipments were down from 2007 levels, and lots of our end-user data suggest that they would postpone equipment purchases until the economic outlook improves. Clearly the economy is having an impact on the market for wide-format graphics, but it is very difficult to predict the total of that impact and how long it will last. As famous economist John Kenneth Galbraith wrote, “The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.” So, we’re building our forecast models using the fundamental assumptions that have fueled the growth of the market in the past, namely the strength of trade shows and events, and outdoor and point-of-purchase advertising.


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