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 user 2007-11-28 at 12:02:00 pm Views: 60
  • #20882

    Moorpark company tests printers and their ink
    QualityLogic evaluates claims of products, their competition
    Ever wonder if that ink jet refill is worth it? Or just how much that printer ink costs per page?A Moorpark company does the legwork to answer those kinds of questions for companies that want to verify their claims and challenge those made by competitors.

    QualityLogic, formed in 1999 from the merger of two firms that were started in 1986 and 1994, offers software that companies use to test their products. It also tests a company’s products to find out if they perform as promised or to assess how they compare with competitors’ items.QualityLogic’s customers include some big names in the digital imaging and telecommunications industries, such as Microsoft, IBM, Xerox, Lexmark, Cisco, Dell, Lucent, Nortel and Motorola.The company recently completed a report for Hewlett-Packard where it tested original ink cartridges against refilled cartridges, including those filled at ink refill kiosks popping up in office supply stores. Company employees would wander in, get their cartridges refilled, then head back to the lab to run them through a series of tests.Another report was for Kodak, which is trying a new approach to selling printers and ink. Many manufacturers practically, or literally, give their printers away and then make money on the cartridges.”Kodak announced an ink jet with very low-cost cartridges. They’re trying to turn that razor blades business model on its ear a little bit,” said Dave Jollota, QualityLogic’s chief operating officer.Kodak called on QualityLogic to figure out the cost of ink per page for its cheaper ink, compared with its competitors.Kodak’s internal testing doesn’t carry the weight that a third-party test does, said Roderick Eslinger, technical marketing manager for Kodak.Eslinger said QualityLogic is “highly regarded across the industry — not just in the U.S., but abroad as well.”

    Kodak decided to pursue cheaper ink cartridges after studies showed that people would print more if it cost less. Eslinger said the analysis done by QualityLogic reaches beyond simply looking at how many pages a cartridge can print to really looking at the cost of each page.”We’re setting a new standard in how we’re doing this competitive analysis,” he said. “It’s a huge deal. I would predict these other companies are probably going to follow suit.”There is a delicate balance that QualityLogic maintains as it works with different clients. One week, the company might be testing for HP. The next, it might be testing HP’s cartridges against Kodak. Rather than posing a problem, however, it gives the company’s test results added credibility, Jollota said.”We’ve been in business a lot of years,” he said. “We have a stellar reputation for our integrity and independence. It helps all of our customers to know we are doing work for them as well as their competitors.”It helps particularly when companies can point to results from QualityLogic tests that support their claims, and also point to tests that didn’t come out in their favor. It shows the third-party objectivity, Jollota said.”If a customer has a competitive advantage in an area, it will show that. If they’re trying to invent (that competitive advantage), independent testing will not show that,” he said.

    The company also provides test software to industry magazines for product reviews, and for large IT departments trying to make a purchase decision.Jollota said there is a lot of potential to boost QualityLogic’s business in the coming years.While research and development, sales and marketing, and administration are based in Moorpark, much of the testing is conducted at a location in Boise, Idaho, Jollota said. But the Boise facility, with between 60 and 70 people, is “bursting at the seams,” he said.The company plans to add some additional testing capability in Moorpark, as well as employees during the coming quarters. About 35 to 40 people now work at the Moorpark location.The company expects revenue this year to be about $8 million to $9 million, and is forecasting that to grow 20 percent to 25 percent next year, Jollota said.Several factors should help QualityLogic grow its business, he said.First, printer companies are vying for market position.”The printing war, when it comes to consumables, is just beginning,” Jollota said.Refill kiosks are springing up all over, and companies selling original ink cartridges are trying to protect their turf.Then there are new approaches, such as Kodak’s low-cost cartridges.All of that adds up to more companies that are going to want comparative tests done, Jollota said.And new products being developed, such as HP’s high-speed ink jet printers for the office, will demand various studies and tests.Then there is the anticipated roll out of products that will work with Microsoft’s new XPS portable document technology, which will compete with Adobe’s PDF. Jollota said the adoption of Vista has been slow, but is expected to pick up in the coming year, which should drive use of XPS.

    That also will call for more testing.Even the weak dollar is working in QualityLogic’s favor since about half of the company’s test software business is with companies outside the United States, primarily in Japan.A weaker dollar allows foreign firms to spend more on testing software, giving a boost to QualityLogic.”We have the benefits of being a small company that’s in the middle of some very large technology,” Jollota said.