This Week in Imaging: Will Better, Less Costly Service, Big Data Pave the Way for HP into A3 Copier/MFP Market?

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Photo credit: Kathy Wirth

In a development that’s likely to generate many, many pixels of news coverage, HP Inc. announced this week that it’s purchasing Samsung’s Printing Business Solutions group and that it intends to be a major player in the A3 copier/MFP market.

There are two ways to look at this. On the pro side, copier companies such as Canon and Sharp have generally been reporting modest revenue and profit growth for their copier/MFP groups. That may mean that getting into A3 and having access to Samsung printer/MFP technology could be a good move. In general, Samsung has been pretty innovative with its printers and MFPs, with its Android touch screen, and with, for instance, Samsung being among the first to introduce Near Field Communication (NFC) tap-to-print mobile printing. HP will have access to all of that technology and Samsung’s R&D engineers will be merged with HP’s engineers.

On the other hand, is getting into A3 at this time a good move? Reports routinely indicate that at the very most only about 10 percent of printing and copying is now on 11″ x 17″. HP says that copier/MFP companies haven’t innovated “in a long time,” but is it lack of innovation or just the slow and gradual decline in office print volumes responsible for the current fiscal environment among copier companies – aided and abetted by a sluggish global economy? Is it just a coincidence that various copier/MFP makers are getting into IT services, production printers, robotics, drone services, security services, and more?

On yet another hand, HP says it’s addressing two key concerns with copier/MFPs: 1) the perception – real or not – that copier/MFPs break down too much and service is slow and costly, and 2) now more than ever, as connected network devices, copier/MFPs and the data they process are weak points in an any enterprise’s security structure.

In order to succeed in this market, HP promises that its copier/MFPs will be much more reliable and incorporate remote-diagnostics for monitoring them to maintain uptime and supplies – including sensors that indicate when parts are failing, with that data then fed to the cloud and then onto dealers, enabling them to more efficiently service the MFPs at a lower cost. That should mean better margins for dealers and happier customers. At the same time, HP appears to be promising significantly lower color cost per page – basing color cost per page on the amount of color actually printed – so that dealers can offer customers a color cost per page up to less than a fifth of that offered with competitive copier/MFPs.

Of course, HP’s first going to have conclusively demonstrate that it can deliver on all of this. And last but not least, HP has tried twice before to get into the A3 copier/mopier market – first with the Mopier back in the 1990s, and more recently with Sharp-sourced products. Will the third time be the charm?

Otherwise news this week was dominated by ink, ink, INK! There are new A3 HP PageWide business-inkjet MFPs, new Epson photo printer, new “world’s fastest cut-sheet inkjet printer” from RISO, new UVgel inks from Canon, and new quick-drying inks from Ricoh.

The strong growth of inkjet technology sort of puts a damper on all of the excitement about HP/Samsung A3 toner-based printers, as well as whatever enthusiasm (or lack thereof) about the potential benefits for dealers who are earning a living selling toner-based devices, service contracts, MPS services, and leases. Some vendors seem to be skimping on A4 printers and have ignored inkjet as an alternative for the office, as they basically seemed to have shrugged their shoulders, reasoning that “we can’t rake in the dough as usual because A4 and inkjet are too reliable, too cheap to purchase and ink is too cheap, so we won’t even try.” So, the dealers may be stuck behind a rock and a hard place, and it’s quite possible that this big HP/Samsung deal may go right over these vendors’ heads, to HP’s benefit.

Office-Imaging News

  • HP Set to Purchase Samsung’s Printer Group for $1.05 Billion as it Prepares for Assault on Copier Market – Read more here.
  • Samsung Board Approves Sale of Printing Business to HP; Will Continue to Source Printers from HP – Read more here.
  • A Closer Look at HP’s New LaserJet and PageWide MFPs Said to Feature Better Reliability, Monitoring, Security, and More – Read more here.
  • HP Simplifies Partner First Program for Reseller Channel, Expands Marketing Resources – Read more here.
  • Kyocera Partners with DataBank for Providing Business-Processing, Enterprise Content Management Services – Read more here.
  • New Epson Expression Premium ‘Small-in-One’ for Home Users Said to Produce Lab-Quality Prints – Read more here.
  • New Xerox DocuMate 3125 Features Faster Scan Speeds, Improved Solutions Compatibility – Read more here.

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