IT Strategies' Wide Format Graphics Forecast has been issued annually since 1994. The forecast is based on systems sales units input of 90+ percent of vendors representing at least 90 percent of sales for the prior calendar year (this year, 2010's sales). Further data regarding pricing, consumption, utilization rates and substrate usage is gathered through secondary research and is regularly refreshed through user research among users of wide format technology each year. Various methods of cross-analysis are employed as sanity checks on individual data points, for example ink and media consumption calculations are compared against real vendor revenues after hardware.
Strictly, the 'forecast' is really a projection of the prior historical linear trend and contains an absolute minimum of assumptions about future change by intent. We model varying assumptions on a custom and confidential basis.
The forecast is divided into four major technology sectors: Aqueous (AQ), Eco-Solvent (ES), Aggressive Solvent (AS) and UV-Curable (UV). The AQ sectors are then broken down to <36-inch-wide systems (not including 17-inch systems however), >36-inch-wide systems and systems used in-house (corporate). The UV sector is also further broken down into Low End UV Flatbed (LEUVFB) for flatbed systems with acquisition price below $200K and High End UV Flatbed systems (HEUVFB) for systems with acquisition price above $200K. The same $200K threshold is applied to splitting UV Roll-to-Roll (R2R) systems into Low End and High End systems (LEUVR2R & HEUVR2R). So-called hybrid systems are usually classified into either Flatbed or R2R according to their perceived base configuration (most are seen this way as Flatbed). Latex technology is included in ES as it is a one-vendor market, and we do not of course wish to reveal that vendor's market share.
Note that dollar amounts in the forecast are partially normalized from foreign currencies and mostly do NOT incorporate discounting assumptions. We normally use list prices even though discounting of hardware and consumables is widespread. While our aggregate revenue numbers are accurate and in general conform to vendor revenues by conscious adjustment, individual positions may overstate values somewhat. In general prices are used at 'dealer' level where dealers are involved, that is to say, the price that the dealer would pay for product, including his margin. Real vendor revenues for products traded through distribution (much is NOT so traded) would be less by the amount of the dealer margin (up to 30 percent).
Aqueous Market's Strength
Aqueous markets recovered much more than anticipated. Volumes are still below 2008 level, but are up 16 percent from 2009. This is probably a function of large-scale installed base replacement and the trend will probably not continue as the market flattens. Ink revenues per printer are down somewhat probably due to a shift to lower width units in the installed base as well as to lower cost hardware bringing in lower scale users.
Total Solvent Market's Strength
Total solvent/latex numbers nearly doubled from 2009 to 2010. The main reason was the under-inclusion of Chinese vendors units before 2010. Fresh research undertaken in China has indicated a much bigger market than we thought, though with minimal penetration into developed markets. A secondary and more important reason is also that Eco-Solvent printers seem to have been largely unaffected by Latex sales. Latex did well as much as was expected and is a great success, but did not seem to cause attrition to ES sales. The ES market has effectively re-attained its 2008 volume. It may be that the relative affordability of ES as a kind of universal technology (i.e.: for indoors and outdoors display) as against UV boosted the market's performance, which would not relate to Latex. This is a speculation.