This Week in Imaging: Scary Times for the Print Industry?; Unique Panasonic Scanner/Toughpad Bundle
Scary times for the print industry? Yes and no. But with a sale of either Sharp Corporation and/or Lexmark International most likely imminent, with both Xerox and HP splitting into two separate companies, and with slowing revenue even from Japan companies that have been benefiting from a weak yen for the last several years, the industry is changing in big ways. With perhaps the exception of Xerox – whose split is essentially divesting itself of Affiliated Computer Services – needless to say, these changes will have substantial effects one way or another. “Stuff” always runs downhill, and the effect of changes in management – especially for the worse, when it comes to big-ego, incompetent management – reaches even the “bottom-rung” employees.
On the bright side, the rumor that both Canon and Ricoh may be considering purchasing Lexmark’s printer/copier division could be a big boost for either company by giving them access to Lexmark’s strong A4 and solutions lines, and strong hold in vertical segments, especially banking. That said, Canon and Ricoh have competent A4 lineups, but Canon appears to be more willing to market and sell direct, which of course rubs the dealer community the wrong way.
As for a Foxconn takeover of Sharp, Sharp’s copier business continues to be profitable, but it can’t carry the whole company. Meanwhile, several analysts agree that a takeover by Foxconn, which manufactures for Apple and Sony, would benefit Sharp’s ailing liquid-crystal-display business by expanding sales channels for Sharp’s LCDs. But would Foxconn be interested in Sharp’s copier business? If not, might we see Sharp’s copier business go to a competitor? That competitor might be Samsung, which back in 2013, reportedly offered to purchase Sharp’s copier group (see Sharp Rejects Samsung’s Offer to Buy Printer/Copier Division).
The other alternative is that the government-backed Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ) may come to the rescue. Japan with its state-capitalist system of government has invested heavily in industry and to see a Japanese company such as Sharp go to foreign-owned Foxconn would be difficult, if not dishonorable. If so, INCJ would likely become the majority shareholder in Sharp. Yesterday, however, Sharp agreed to sell to Foxconn for some $6 billion, but Foxconn reportedly got cold feet. Stay tuned.