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Apple's iPad driving accelerated enterprise transition away from printing

A new analysis shows that the adoption of tablets in the enterprise, led largely by Apple's iPad, is having an accelerating impact on the decline corporate printing.

Investment bank Morgan Stanley said Tuesday in a note to investors that the rapid ascent of tablets for business use has adversely affected printing by more than it had originally predicted. Last February, a Blue Paper from the company predicted an 8-15 percent decline in printing, but a new survey shows cuts as deep as 16 percent due to increased tablet use combined and company measures to curtail printing.

The firm surveyed 700 tablet users in the U.S. about how the devices affect their printing behavior at work. 46 percent of respondents said they printed less, with 13 percent indicating that they printed 16 percent less after owning a tablet.

41 percent of tablet users said they viewed print reduction as a "main benefit" of tablet adoption, according to the survey. Among respondents who said they printed significantly less, 79 percent chose decreased printing as the key benefit of the tablet.

As a result of the move away from printing, analyst Katy Huberty predicts a roughly 3 percent decline in developed market laser supplies. She noted that Lexmark, Ricoh and Konica Minolta, which all have exposure in corporate laser printing, are the most "structurally challenged" by the drop. Fujifilm, Canon and HP could also see minor negative impacts.

Huberty went on to claim that the increase of "bring your own device" corporate policies will put "rising pressure" on printing in the enterprise. A Morgan Stanley survey of CIOs from last month revealed that 48 percent of them expect to allow tablets on company networks this year, up from 16 percent last January. That number is expected to increase even further to 66 percent by January 2013.

Company efforts to cut back on printing have also contributed significantly to a reduction. The investment bank's survey showed that 75 percent of participants printed less after their employers instituted print curtailment tactics.

CIOs have indicated plans to cut print-related spending by as much as 34 percent this year, Huberty reported. By comparison, an earlier survey from April 2011 had suggested plans for an 18 percent drop on average over 12 months.

As evidence of tablet devices' direct impact on the printing industry, Huberty pointed out that printing and writing paper demand in the U.S. has fallen 9 percent since the iPad was first released in April 2010. As of the fourth quarter of 2011, paper demand is down a total of 24 percent since it reached a peak in 2006.

Morgan Stanley paper chart

"The potential 16% downside risk reported in our survey does not seem unrealistic given recent paper trends," Huberty told investors.

The analyst described tablet penetration in the enterprise as "nascent," while noting that rapid growth is taking place. Citing figures from IDC, she noted that the percentage of tablets in the enterprise as compared to the entire tablet market has risen to 5.6 percent, up from 0.8 percent in first quarter of 2010, the quarter before Apple released the iPad.

Morgan Stanley tablets

Huberty also quoted Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer as saying the iPad has experienced "unprecedented adoption in business" during a recent quarterly earnings conference call. According to Oppenheimer, nearly all of the top Fortune 500 companies are actively using iPads.

According to one recent enterprise study, Apple has a dominant market share in the industry. Enterprise mobile services vendor Good Technology found the iPad to have an unrivaled 96 percent share of tablets in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Apple sold a record 15.43 million iPads in the December 2011 quarter. Estimates from one market research firm noted Apple's global market share during the period as 58 percent.