This Week in Imaging: Copier/Printer Company Financials Reflect Possible Shake-Ups, Global Slow-Down

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Photo credit: Kathy Wirth

If you’ve been paying attention to such things, it’s been a rather dismal week of economic news, as worldwide economic growth has recently taken a hit. The U.S. economy slumped in the third-quarter (Q3): consumer spending was 3.2 percent, down from 3.6 percent in the second-quarter (Q2); business spending was 2.1 percent, down from 4.1 percent in Q2; home investment was 6.1 percent, down from 9.3 percent in Q2; business investment was -4 percent, down from +6.2 percent in Q2; and finally, business inventories were $56.8bn, down from $113.5bn. This resulted in a cut of 1.44 percentage points off the U.S. GDP growth rate.

Additionally, after averaging a growth rate of 10 percent per year, China’s economic growth was “only” 6.9 percent in the third quarter, the weakest rate since the global financial crisis hit. On a positive note, it’s been reported that Beijing is trying to engineer a gradual slowdown by shifting focus away from building roads, railways, and housing in order to spur the economy through consumer spending. Moreover, this week China surpassed Japan to become the world’s second-largest economy, an event that has particular significance in our industry. Only time will tell how all of this works out.

That noted, it’s not surprising that there were lots of rumblings in our industry this week, from a rumored sale of Lexmark International, which says it’s exploring “strategic alternatives,” to a review of business operations at Xerox, and lower revenue and earnings from both of these companies, as well as from Canon, Konica Minolta, and Kodak. And let’s not forget that this Sunday, November 1st, Hewlett-Packard officially splits into two companies, HP Enterprise and HP Inc., and that it announced last week that it will jettison cyber-security unit Tipping Point off to Tokyo-based Trend Micro International for $300 million.

Clearly industry leaders see the need to transform, as office-print volumes continue their steady decline, and the global market shows a gradual downturn. Consequently, many vendors are expanding into other segments, including software for automating business document and information processes, as well as strengthening non-office production and specialty printing, and even 3D printing, as Ricoh joins Hewlett-Packard and Canon this week with its own in-house 3D printer. But the global economic climate will be a challenge for all.

As for Ricoh’s 3D printer, it seems there’s no getting away from lasers, as Ricoh’s 3D printer uses a laser-based technology that’s a bit different from the inkjet-based-deposition technology many 3D printers use. Essentially, with laser-based 3D printing, powders are typically used to build up a form; then a laser binds the powder together to solidify the form into a 3D object.

Ricoh’s 3D printer will be available in Japan at the end of October, with rollouts to other countries following. And while Canon hasn’t yet formally announced when its 3D printer will be available, we might expect it next year. That may mean that, in 2016, three big printer/copier companies – Ricoh, Canon, and Hewlett-Packard (which will roll-out its Multi Jet Fusion in 2016) – will all have their own 3D printer on the market – all three of which will be designed for rapid prototyping and manufacturing – and set to compete against each other.

Feature Stories

Ricoh Launches its First 3D Printer, the Ricoh AM S550P, for Prototyping, Manufacturing – Read more here.

Office-Imaging News

New OKI ES5162LP Mono Copier/MFP with Legal-Size Platen is Exclusively for BTA Channel – Read more here.

New Epson WorkForce Pro Business Inkjet Compatible with Print-Management Solutions – Read more here.

Financial News

Lexmark Reports Third-Quarter Results; Exploring ‘Strategic Alternatives;’ Sale Rumored – Read more here.

Sales Up for Canon’s Quarter, but Income Slips; Lowers Outlook for Full Year – Read more here.

Difficult Quarter for Xerox; Will Review Operations – Read more here.

Loss for Kodak’s Third Quarter, but Says ‘On Track’ to Meet 2015 Earnings Goals – Read more here.

Profits Down for Konica Minolta, but Business Technologies Reports Steady Revenue, Profits – Read more here.

Commercial-, Specialty- and Production-Printing News

Ricoh’s New MP W7100/W8150 Wide-Format MFP for AEC Features Print, Copy, Color Scan – Read more here.

Legal Briefs

Kodak and Collins Settle Long-Running Versamark Ink Legal Dispute – Read more here.

Samsung Wins Toner-Cartridge Patent-Infringement Lawsuit Against Four Resellers in Germany – Read more here.

Partnerships

Canon and Fujitsu Join Forces to Develop Solutions Using Network Cameras – Read more here.

Loffler Becomes Dealer for Xerox Office and Light-Production Imaging Systems – Read more here.

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October 2015

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