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 user 2009-05-22 at 11:08:26 am Views: 66
  • #21991
    Will Printer and Printer Supply Sales Ever Recover?
    recession has slammed sales of printers and printing supplies as hard
    as it’s slammed most other technology sales. But vendors such as HP,
    Lexmark and Xerox are grappling with the question of whether the move
    towards green technology and doing more with less will fundamentally
    change how companies consume printers and printing supplies. And how
    will reseller solution providers evolve to fit the new model?

    printers and printing supplies going the way of other outmoded
    technologies like external modems and tape backups — destined to pile
    up in some forgotten IT closet somewhere?
    That’s the scenario that
    has some in the industry closely watching earnings announcements from
    companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Lexmark and Xerox.The question is,
    are the huge sales drop offs in printing and supplies by these
    companies caused by the recession, or is there a bigger trend at work? 
    Is the move towards green computing and doing more with less driving
    some companies to re-evaluate their printing practices?Angela
    O’Donnell, owner of New York City-based solution provider W. O’Donnell
    Consulting, says that company gate keepers from CFOs to office managers
    are casting a more watchful eye on the printing supplies purchased and
    used.  “As a function of the recession a big piece of the business that
    wasn’t looked at too hard was printing expenses, says O’Donnell.  “Now
    businesses are looking at every single expense.”

    Resource Library:
    example, she notes, some of her customers are changing the way that
    drivers are installed at their site so that certain groups within the
    company can only print in monotone and not in color anymore. That’s
    translated into a big drop off in color toner sales for her company.And
    O’Donnell says that office managers are no longer stocking up on
    supplies. They are working with more of a just-in-time stocking
    process.“I do think this will become a permanent change,” says
    O’Donnell.  “It will change what people think about the things they
    really need and how they need to work.”

    HP’s CEO Mark Hurd
    disagrees, saying that the changes to the printing business right now
    are “cyclical rather than secular.”  Answering analysts questions
    during HP’s earnings conference call this week, Hurd told them that
    digital printing content is growing.“So the cyclical stuff that we’re
    seeing right now…is based on GDP and unemployment,” Hurd says. “…Is
    there some big secular change in printing? Secular changes occur over
    years and decades and over very long periods.”However, Hurd points out,
    HP is also hedging its bets. He says that home photo printing makes up
    less than 10 percent of the company’s supplies revenue, but that
    business is shifting to the web and to retail locations.“[That’s] one
    of the reasons you see HP investing in Snapfish,” Hurd says. “It’s one
    of the reasons why you see HP investing in retail photo kiosks,” which
    use HP supplies.

    But some think the drop off in printing
    hardware and supply sales is more a function of the recession than
    anything else, and will pick up again when the economy is humming once
    again.”There have been a ton of layoffs and therefore less folks
    printing,” says Becky Connolly, director of computer and imaging
    supplies and accessories at Technology Integration Group, a Torrance,
    Calif.-based solution provider.  “I have found a surplus of printers at
    my clients’ sites due to closing of facilities.”But Connolly believes
    that’s temporary. While companies are looking to operate more
    efficiently and looking towards green practices, sales will come back
    when employment does.“I see a lot of companies evaluating in this
    space, and I feel more devices will be sold, once they go through what
    they have and what can still be used energy efficiently,” she says.
    “When people are employed they print.”

    And even if the change is
    a permanent one, as O’Donnell believes, vendors are gearing up to
    address changes to the market.“Clearly, more and more organization are
    moving toward paperless technologies, which by extension equates to
    less printing and therefore less load on printers and need for
    supplies,” says M.J. Shoer, chief operating officer at Portsmouth,
    NH-based Jenaly Technologies.  “However, this is not to say the printer
    business is dying.  Far from it, but it is evolving.”Shoer points to
    Xerox’s solid ink technology as a strong value proposition for
    companies concerned with the amount of waste they are generating.“To
    me, this makes sense as the print market has been evolving,” he says.