In the first quarter of 2013, for the first time in two years the hard copy industry’s revenue rose year-on-year. But, it turns out, a closer look demonstrates that the gains were entirely the result of the weakening yen, which boosted the overseas sales of Japanese companies in yen terms, even though those same sales were down in local-currency terms.

Total first-quarter industry revenue (based on the ten companies that report their hard copy revenue) was up $700 million, to $24.2 billion. But a perusal of the results of five Japanese companies that provide sufficient data to make the analysis (Canon, Ricoh, Seiko Epson, Konica Minolta, and Brother) shows that the yen alone boosted their sales by $1.6 billion, which in turn means that the industry’s revenue was actually down around $1 billion, rather than up.
So it is the same sad story again: The industry’s decline continues, even if exchange rates have temporarily distorted the picture.