Printer sales in the Asia-Pacific region last year grew 37 per cent year-on-year, spurred by inexpensive inkjets capable of producing high-quality prints, according to research firm Dataquest. Analyst Lane Leskela said: 'The recent surge of near-photographic-quality inkjet printers in the US$100 to $200 range continues to heat up the competition and drive volume in large emerging markets like China and India.' Inkjets made up 61 per cent of total printer sales in the region last year, while dot matrix units accounted for 21 per cent and laser models 18 per cent. South Korea was the biggest market with a 23 per cent share, followed by the mainland with 21 per cent, Australia with 15 per cent and Taiwan with 10 per cent. The mainland emerged as the fastest-growing market last year, with shipments up 80 per cent year-on-year. Mainland sales were driven by large businesses, government offices and joint-venture companies, Mr Leskela said. The top three printer vendors accounted for 70 per cent of the market. Hewlett-Packard captured top position with 30 per cent of unit shipments, followed by Epson (23 per cent) and Canon (17 per cent). Mr Leskela said Hewlett-Packard and Epson 'both have very strong hands-on channel markets', which accounted for their leading shares. Dataquest forecast shipments for printers in the region this year would match last year's figures as the economic crisis took its toll on the market's growth rate. 'With the severe economic downturn in key markets this year, Dataquest expects a regional decline in end-user printer spending of about 2 per cent in 1998 as compared to 1997,' Mr Leskela said.