Digital pen refers to the use of electronic and smart pens in various industries, such as healthcare; banking and finance; IT & communication; and others. A digital pen helps its user to digitally capture a drawing or a handwritten note. Digital pens are marginally larger than regular ballpoint pens, in the sense that digital pens capture pen strokes, including texts and drawings, on an LCD screen or on a specially designed digital paper. The global digital pen market is expected to grow at a swift rate for the next few years. Rising disposable income, increasing use of digital pens in art and design works, and growing adoption of digital learning tools are some of the key factors driving the growth of the digital pen market.
The global digital pen market had a consolidated structure in 2017. Wacom held a major portion of the global market size in 2017, whereas its nearest competitor, Canon, held only one-sixth of Wacom’s market share. The market was highly fragmented at the base, where the combined share of Microsoft, Anoto, Hanvon Technology, and Apple was below 20%.
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The high growth rate of the global digital pen market has been prompting the industry participants to actively invest in technology and become OEM partners for the touch-based device manufacturers, to grab the largest share of the existing and forthcoming opportunities. The leading companies are also introducing related accessories to make best match for their digital pen products. In the recent years, Anoto entered three partnership agreements in the U.S. healthcare industry. The company also entered an agreement with a major airline company in the U.S. for the use of its digital pen solutions at their pilot and flight attendant training centers.
Till 2014, Microsoft had been the client for digital pen technology for Wacom. After August 2014, Microsoft switched from Wacom to the Israel’s N-Trig, which Microsoft acquired in 2015. The acquisition of N-trig by Microsoft strengthened its position in the digital pen market. Off late, Apple launched Apple Pencil, its first digital pen in September 2015. In the short span of time, it captured market share of around 1%, which grew and reached 6% in 2017. In 2017, Wacom partnered with Microsoft to offer Wacom Bamboo Ink, an intuitive digital pen for instant access to Windows Ink workspace and pen enabled app. This is the second technology partnership of these companies after 2014.
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Owing to large demand for Wacom digital pens, the company enjoys economies of scale. Wacom’s OEM partnerships is the key reason for the large demand of its digital pens. However, the other major players, including Anoto, are also trying to establish OEM partnerships, which is also reflected in its increased share in the recent past. Increasing investment of companies on interoperability is further expected to make the market competition intense during the coming years.
Anoto’s digital pen revenue in 2017 comprised of Anoto and Livescribe, where Livescribe, a subsidiary of Anoto, accounted for around 30% of the Anoto’s digital pen revenue in 2017.
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