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 user 2003-12-05 at 10:49:00 am Views: 102
  • #8099

    $1 Trillion Dollar Prize — And It’s Anyone’s Game

    The aggregated digital printing market presents a massive opportunity as it amounts to as much as $1,000,000,000,000 in retail value annually, said Dr. Brian Springett, a renowned expert and 25-year veteran of Xerox Corp., at this week’s Toners and Photoreceptors Conference. The issues that seemed to prevail on industry analysts’ minds this year were 1) overcoming color/chemical toner obstacles and 2) making sense of the convergence of two markets with divergent skills.

    Each year industry analysts and experts in the field of electrophotography converge in Santa Barbara, Calif., to define and explore the industry in which they dwell, at the invitation of Diamond Research Corp. and its new affiliate, the Tiara Group.

    There is much afoot this year at old companies, according to Richard Norton of DocuTrends, a research firm. Xerox is managing all of its agents and dealers via its newly acquired Tektronix division. Hewlett-Packard has historically enjoyed pitting competing divisions against each other, but this year decided to bring its Boise laser printer production and Calif.-based ink jet divisions under the same leadership.

    However, Norton was most smitten by HP’s move to enter into a national reseller agreement with copier icon Ikon. “This could help HP get into the high-end copier business,” Norton said. And the HP 9000 at 50 ppm is an introduction into that skills set.

    Norton forecasted the lower speed laser marketplace is not only being supplanted by ink jet products, but will disappear entirely as customers demand faster speeds. The major battleground is at the 13-20 ppm segment. HP reigns supreme in this segment, with its successful HP 4000 and other units holding 80.6 percent market share. Lexmark is a distant second with 11.3 percent.

    However, Lexmark jumps up to 27.8 percent to HP’s 41.8 percent in the 21-29 ppm segment. The balance of power shifts at the speed-essential workgroup segment. And at the higher speeds above that, stalwart Xerox takes over command, including the 46-69 ppm sector, which DocuTrends projects will have the fastest growing segment.

    The melange of copier and printer titans in one industry had everyone guessing as to who would prevail. Although Norton was enamored with HP’s allegiance with Ikon and other software partners, others felt that the drive to color would dictate leadership.

    For example, Ricoh’s ability to deliver a five cents/page full-color copy indicates that its channel dealers might gain the high ground. This would be especially true if the dealers could capture the supplies market as well as the service provision.

    The quandary over industry dominance prevailed over the conference, and will make the moves of OEMs subject to even further scrutiny as they move forward into the new year.