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 user 2005-08-25 at 11:37:00 am Views: 54
  • #12810

    Low-cost printer raises competition bar

    With a single product, Seiko Epson Corp. has sharply raised the level of competition in the nation’s shrinking copier market.

    In June, the company introduced the Offirio-a scanner-equipped color laser printer that also serves as a copier-priced at less than 300,000 yen.

    That compares to the approximate 1 million yen price of its cheapest competitor.

    Its printing speed is slower than that of rival products made by the three dominant copier makers: Canon Inc., Ricoh Co. and Fuji Xerox Co. Also, Seiko Epson does not offer maintenance service.

    However, its price and functionality are attracting a steady stream of orders from small and midsize companies.

    Not only is the purchase price low, its operating cost, at 16 yen per sheet, is about half that of similar machines.

    Given the shrinking copier market, tougher competition is the last thing the Big Three want to see.

    Domestic copier sales slipped to 727,000 units in 2004 from 730,000 units in 1999, according to the Japan Business Machine and Information System Industries Association.

    The market has not seen a new entrant for many years.

    The machines require a combination of complex technologies to feed copy paper, control static electricity and print toner clearly on paper.

    Seiko Epson, however, is an archrival of Canon in the printer market and possesses the basic technologies.

    Manufacturers are competing aggressively over price, function and services.

    One recent focus of competition is the high-end models equipped with hard disk drives, which allow users to store a large volume of documents and print them whenever they are needed.

    Canon’s models allow companies to modify copiers’ built-in software and link up with other information equipment.

    Ricoh, meanwhile, plans to install this autumn a function that authorizes copiers’ users by reading their IC cards.

    The company plans to reinforce the security of data on individuals in response to a new law that took effect in April.

    Fuji Xerox on Tuesday announced plans to review its organization to reinforce its regional sales capabilities.

    President Toshio Arima said the company will turn 32 sales companies across the country into wholly owned subsidiaries and transfer 2,700 sales staff from the headquarters to those subsidiaries.

    The company believes that demand for high-end copiers will increase even in regional areas