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 user 2003-11-17 at 10:21:00 am Views: 99
  • #8513

    Hewlett-Packard To Announce Copier Market Entry Today 

    Hewlett-Packard will announce on Monday the first of a new line of high-end corporate copiers that will intensify competition between the computer and printer maker and copier-making rivals such as Xerox and Ricoh.

    The move is part of HP’s push to expand its printing business beyond traditional markets. The printer group, often referred to by analysts as HP’s crown jewel, has accounted for the bulk of profits during the past few years.

    HP already offers commercial printers with scanners, but industry observers say they are not fast enough to cope with the big workloads typical in large corporate environments.

    In August HP signed an agreement to use copier engines made by Japan’s Konica to power its new high- end copier units, which are capable of scanning, copying and printing documents.

    Andy Slawetsky, vice- president at Industry Analysts, said that HP’s move was “definitely shaking things up in the industry”. Mr Slawetsky added: “It’s the first real step by a printer vendor to take a direct shot at copy vendors.”

    The first products in the new range are expected to be announced this week at Comdex, the computer industry trade show in Las Vegas. HP officials declined to comment.

    Low-end units that print fewer than 30 pages a minute account for most of the $17bn US copier market, but high-end multifunction printer/copiers that print up to 80 pages a minute are increasingly in demand.

    Printer rival Lexmark, as well as copier makers such as Xerox, Ricoh and Canon, are all vying for a stake in the high-end multifunction copier market. HP is seen to have a strong hand in the sector because copiers are being increasingly hooked into corporate networks. This means they now fall into the information technology realm in which HP has vast experience, a reputation for quality and a large research and development budget.

    Mr Slawetsky said Xerox had very competitive products and the industry’s best-trained sales and services group.

    HP’s new initiative will not mark the first time that Xerox has had to fend off competitors.

    Last April it launched a campaign to regain the ground it had lost to Japanese competitors Canon and Ricoh, and introduced new low-end products. It also cut the price of its existing range by 10 per cent