Photo printers not catching on in China

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Photo printers not catching on in China

Consumers prefer retail printing services.

Owners of digital cameras and colour printers in China are surprisingly reluctant to use their printers, a new survey has found.

Consumers in the world's most populous market print fewer than 20 per cent of their digital photos at home, even when they own the necessary equipment, according to data from Lyra Research. 

Chinese consumers tend to use digital cameras in the same way that they used traditional film cameras, having the pictures printed at retail photo services. Lyra said that 80 per cent use such services.

Despite low average incomes, more than US$320m worth of printers were sold in China in the first three months of 2007, according to research firm Analysys International. 

The majority go to businesses and government departments, and fewer than 25 per cent are bought for personal use.

"The retail digital photo-printing infrastructure would appear to be quite well established, at least in the urban areas of China, said Lyra's researchers.

"This implies that the market development in China is considerably different than that in the US where, in the early adopter years, home printing was even more predominant than it is now."

Earlier research suggested that one explanation for Chinese print service usage patterns could be that consumers believe ink prices are too high.

"Cost-conscious Chinese consumers do not like paying high prices for consumables," Lyra's researchers reported last year.

Printer makers have been forced to reduce the prices of cartridges in China in an effort to boost sales.

China now has some of the cheapest printer ink prices in the world, Lyra reported in January, but the latest research findings show that China's printer owners are still reluctant to use their printers to print photos.

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