Sharp Showcases Smart Office Tech at National Dealer Meeting

Without a doubt, a lot’s happened since Sharp’s last dealer conference two years ago when it had been recently acquired by Foxconn.

Among those changes was that the conference was led by Mike Marusic, who was appointed president and CEO of Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America in June 2018, replacing Doug Albregts who resigned from Sharp. (Albregts joined Scientific Gaming, but earlier this month was appointed CEO of Marco.)

The previous conference encouraged dealers, as did this conference, with this conference focusing on adding new Sharp Smart Office technology – including laptop PCs, and displays – to Sharp dealers’ arsenal in order to generate new growth. For instance, Dave Dwyer, vice president of Sharp Supply Chain and Operations, noted: “We will be offering new bundles that are simple, secure and smart.” These bundles include Sharp MFPs, display products, and new for dealers, Sharp Dynabook laptop PCs. 

At the conference – called “Own It 2019” – Sharp chief Marusic expounded on making office work easier, for instance, with the new Sharp Synappx meeting-facilitator solution: “Our path fills a giant gap in the market. We are leveraging our hardware knowledge. We want to make work simple, and Synappx does just that,” noted Marusic.

Marusic also noted the continuing contributions of Sharp dealers: “Our dealers have always been the foundation of our success. Our dealer channel now makes up 81 percent of our units shipped.”

He also noted that Sharp finished its fiscal-year 2018 up 12 percent, with its greatest market share ever, noting “Everything is up.” So far, Sharp dealers have enjoyed 116-percent year-over-year growth in 2019. “Across the board our business this year has simply been an amazing year,” said Marusic.

(According to an April 2019 IDC report, Sharp Corporation as a whole achieved the highest growth rate of any office-equipment vendor in 2018, selling 16 percent more copier/MFPs in  2018 compared to 2017. Sharp also had a value growth of 9 percent, putting it among the top four manufacturers, according to IDC’s Quarterly Hardcopy Peripherals Tracker, Q4 2018 study.)

Dynabook PCs

In October 2018, Sharp got back into the PC business when Toshiba Corporation of Tokyo, Japan, sold 80.1 percent of its shares in its PC business, Toshiba Client Solutions Company, to Sharp Corporation of Osaka, Japan, for $36 million.

At the conference, Sharp introduced four notebook PCs – called “Dynabook” for dealers, with a Sharp executive noting:  “For every customer buying one Sharp copier, they may have a need for 20 or so notebook PCs. With Dynabook and Sharp desktop displays, you can be a one-stop shop for their office tech.” 

(Sharp had quit the PC business in 2010. According to Sharp, it will be able to leverage the power of its parent company, Foxconn, the world’s biggest contract manufacturer, to produce PCs more cheaply, as it has done with TVs.)

Windows Collaboration Display

Demonstrating its Smart Office strategy at the conference, Sharp introduced its new Windows Collaboration Display, a joint venture between Sharp and Microsoft.

The system provides integration with Microsoft 365 and video conferencing, and is designed to make conducting meeting easier and more efficient with both local and remote users, Sharp says users can save up to 10 minutes by simply entering the room and plugging in a laptop computer via USB-C cable. The connector provides high-speed, high-bandwidth data transfer for multiple functions, including 4K Video, Internet network and application data. A wireless casing allows Windows and Android devices to share information as well.

It also includes sensors for monitoring motion, light, temperature, and humidity; this information is then sent to Microsoft Azure IoT Smart Spaces so that it can be adjusted for optimal comfort and energy savings.

The Windows Collaboration Display includes a next-generation 4K 70″ Class (69.5” diagonal) interactive display, built-in microphone, 4K camera and IoT sensor hub that works with Microsoft 365 collaboration tools.

The Sharp video below provides a good overview of the display:

For more information on the Windows Collaboration Display, visit Sharp here.

Keeping with the Smart Office theme, Sharp also launched its new meeting-facilitator solution, Synappx. See our article here for more information.

MFPs and Flat Rate Bundle

Sharp didn’t introduce new MFP hardware at the conference, but both A3 and A4 models introduced in the last year were on display.

However, Sharp did preview a flat rate plan for a Smart Office bundle provided at a flat monthly rate. This bundle would include a Sharp MFP, server, interactive display, a server, and Sharp’s new Synappx software. Sharp did not provide details on price.

See the following articles for more information on Sharp models introduced in the last year.

Sharp Rolls Out New A3, A4 Lineup

Sharp Expands Advanced, Essentials MFP Lineup

New Sharp A4 Color Desktop MFPs Feature Voice-Command Operation

Sharp to Preview New Printer/MFP with Beefed-Up Security

Our Take

The big message at this conference was tying in new Sharp office solutions, such as laptop PCs, with MFPs, and selling them as a bundle to customers, with Sharp CEO Marusic noting: “What if you could go to a customer, say with 20 employees, and sell them the office? I mean provide them their technology needs, all bundled, all working together, inclusive of the copier?” For Sharp dealers, that appears to be both a challenge and an opportunity.

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