Is the fax machine dead? Not quite.
In 2010, the computer-based fax market was roughly $350 million per year, according to Business2Community.com. What’s the size of the market in 2013? The market for computer-based faxing is $620 million.
Yeah, fax is still around.
There are good reasons for the growth in electronic faxing, too.
While e-mail has subsumed much of the role faxing used to play, fax technology still offers a number of benefits. These include the need for a paper trail, security, ease of use and business processes that are built around fax and are easier to keep alive than to replace with new processes.
One area where the fax still makes sense is signatures. While digital signatures were a hot topic back in 2006, even the emergence of secure digital signature technology has not moved the world away from the fax as a good way to share signatures. That’s partially because legislation in many places respects fax signatures while still not recognizing newer forms of electronic signature. It also is because these new forms are often more complicated than signing a piece of paper and scanning it into a fax machine.
“There remains a level of societal skepticism over the viability of digitally certified documents,” reported NBCNews.com a while back. Faxing, however, does not suffer from such skepticism.
The fax has also survived because it is adapting, as the growth numbers of computer-based faxing illustrate.
Just as phone calls have migrated to voice-over-IP (VoIP), fax has migrated to fax-over-IP. This digital version of the fax cuts out the need for paper and fax machines altogether, becoming a form of digital document that acts like e-mail but integrates more fully with older workflows and fax technology.
FoIP also, unlike e-mail, benefits from advantages of fax such as legally-binding signatures via the technology. Companies such as FaxSIPit are delivering compelling FoIP solutions that are helping to keep fax alive when it otherwise might fade away faster.
So who is still a big fax user? That’s an interesting question with an odd answer.
The global leader in fax usage is, of all places, Japan. Yes, technologically-savvy Japan. If this isn’t a ringing endorsement that fax can coexist with more recent technology, it would be hard to find a better example.
In Japan, there are roughly 93 fax users for every 1,000 people in the country. This is not an insignificant number!
The United States is the second biggest fax user, with roughly 55 users per 1,000. Other heavy fax users are Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, France and the Netherlands. This is not a bad list, and it shows that faxes are still quite popular in countries that mean business.
So while many have forgotten about the fax in favor of sexier technologies, the fax is still here. And with technologies such as FoIP, it looks to not be going away any time soon.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson