This Week in Imaging: Back to Work and the Year Ahead: Lexmark, Xerox, Icahn, More

back to work

This week for many of us was a back-to-work week. In case you missed it, last week, the big news was a rumor that Konica Minolta is set to acquire Lexmark International. At the foundation of the rumor is Lexmark’s announcement in October 2015 – on the heels of a disappointing third-quarter 2015 and job lay-offs – that it’s exploring “strategic alternatives” (see our story here). At the time, The Wall Street Journal also reported that the company may be considering a sale.

Since then, Photizo Group reported that it had received an unsolicited letter purportedly from Lexmark employees stating that Konica Minolta would acquire Lexmark’s printer/copier division to fill gaps in its own hardware lineup.

Such a sale wouldn’t be particularly surprising – Lexmark recently sold off its inkjet-printer operations to Japan’s Funai Electric – and the digital-imaging industry has continued to move towards consolidation for many years – for instance Kyocera acquired copier manufacturer Mita Industrial in 2000, in 1999, Xerox acquired Tektronix’s printer division, and Lexmark itself has made a number of acquisitions, including its acquisition of Kofax early this year and its acquisition of Perceptive Software in 2010. The primary benefits for Konica Minolta acquiring Lexmark would be Lexmark’s A4 copier/MFP/printer base and access to Lexmark’s strong customer base in financial services and perhaps its managed print services.

(Lexmark has also had other troubles in recent weeks. These began with a protest of Lexmark factory workers in Mexico seeking an extra 0.34 cents per day, leading to walkouts and firings, and continued with the appointment of a former Lexmark vice president of tax to Kentucky’s commissioner of revenue in the wake of reports from Lexmark that it had discovered accounting errors and its internal financial control were deficient. See a Lexingon Herald Leader story here for more on the latter.)

The Year Ahead

However the Konica Minolta-Lexmark rumor turns out, in 2016, we’re sure to see change as the constant. In particular, this year will likely be a key turning-point for Hewlett-Packard, as the new HP Inc. – devoted to printing and PC computing – begins its first  year as a separate company from HP’s enterprise-services division. This year, HP Inc. is also scheduled to roll out its first HP-developed 3D printer, the MultiJet Fusion, which is designed for manufacturing, and is said to be 10-times faster than competitors. Also on the table for HP Inc. may be resolution of  the Memjet page-wide printing patent-infringement lawsuit.

While HP Inc., and more recently Lexmark. have gotten much attention, less attention was paid to billionaire investor Carl Icahn’s investment in Xerox. In November 2015, Icahn revealed he has a 7.1 percent stake in Xerox (which he says is “undervalued”), making him the second-largest shareholder in the company. This year we may see some big news for Xerox, with one Wall Street analyst noting, for instance, that Icahn’s involvement: “increases the probability of a split, separation, or outright sale of the company…”

As for what’s on the table in general in the digital-imaging industry, aside from continuing consolidation among both vendors and office-equipment dealerships, we’re likely to see continuing: expansion of inkjet, particularly in production printing, weakening of consumer printing (particularly in developed countries), expansion of business inkjet, expansion of specialty printing (such as envelope and fabric printing), and continuing focus on solutions for connecting mobile devices to office processes (including printing and scanning), as well as solutions for streamlining document processes, particularly in financial services and healthcare.

Office-Imaging News

‘Free’ Printer from Cartridge World Requires Purchase of Toner, Ink Supplies – Read more here.

NovaCopy Now Canon Dealer; Acquires Commercial Copy Services Dealership – Read more here.

New Ricoh A4 MP C406 Copier/MFP with ‘Tablet-Style’ Touch Screen NFC Connectivity – Read more here.

Consumer-Imaging News

New Canon SELPHY CP 1200 Wireless Photo Printer with Increased Battery Life – Read more here.

3D-Printing News

3D Systems Exits Consumer 3D-Printer Market; Expands Metal 3D Printer Lineup – Read more here.

IDC: China to Surpass U.S. with 3D-Printer Shipments this Year – Read more here.

Polaroid’s First 3D Printer, the ModelSmart 250S, Features WiFi Camera for Remote Monitoring – Read more here.

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