It’s Amazing – Printer Prices Keep Dropping In Spite of The Economy

apple_laserwriterWe’ve all been aware of how pricing for digital-imaging equipment (printers and MFPs) has dropped over the years, especially those of us who remember that the first B/W Hewlett-Packard 8-ppm LaserJet cost $3,495 in 1984 while the 8-ppm B/W Apple LaserWriter PostScript printer (right) cost $6,995 in 1985.

Why revisit this phenomena now?

Consider this:  Wirth Consulting completed a Head2Head Comparison Report in January 2009 on B2B Duplex/Network MFPs for under $500.  Here’s the list:

Make Model Imaging Technology
Brother DCP-8065DN B/W Laser
Brother DCP-8860DN B/W Laser
Canon imageCLASS D480 B/W Laser
Canon imageCLASS MF4370DN B/W Laser
HP Officejet Pro L7590 Color Ink-Jet
HP Officejet Pro L7680 Color Ink-Jet
HP Officejet Pro L7780 Color Ink-Jet
Lexmark X4975 Professional Color Ink-Jet
Lexmark X7675 Professional Color Ink-Jet
Lexmark X9575 Professional Color Ink-Jet
Total Devices = 10
We just completed the research for a second round of evaluations on the same product category.  Here is the list of B2B Duplex/Network MFPs for under $500 as of September 23, 2009:
Make Model Imaging Technology
Brother DCP-8080DN B/W Laser
Brother DCP-8885DN B/W Laser
Brother MFC-8480DN B/W Laser
Brother MFC-8890DW B/W Laser
Canon imageCLASS D480 B/W Laser
Canon imageCLASS MF4350DN B/W Laser
Canon imageCLASS MF4370DN B/W Laser
Canon imageCLASS MF6540 B/W Laser
HP Officejet Pro L6500 Color Ink-Jet
HP Officejet Pro 8500/Wireless/Premier Color Ink-Jet
HP Photosmart Premium Touchsmart Web Color Ink-Jet
Konica Minolta magicolor 1690MF Color Laser
Lexmark Intuition S505 Color Ink-Jet
Lexmark Interact S605 Color Ink-Jet
Lexmark Platinum PRO905 Color Ink-Jet
Lexmark Prestige PRO805 Color Ink-Jet
Lexmark Prevail PRO705 Color Ink-Jet
Lexmark Prospect PRO205 Color Ink-Jet
Lexmark X264DN B/W Laser
Lexmark X363DN B/W Laser
Panasonic KX-MB3020 B/W Laser
Ricoh GX3000S Color Ink-Jet
Xerox 3220/DN B/W Laser
Total Devices = 23
  • New Products – Nine months later, only two models remain from January 2009 for a total of 21 new products in this category.
  • glamour shot More Imaging Technology Choices – In January 2009, you could choose from among B/W laser or color ink-jet MFPs.  You can now purchase a color laser MFP for under $500 — the Konica Minolta magicolor 1690MF (right).
  • Lower Cost Per Page – Lexmark is advertising B/W printing costs at “a penny a page” for its just-introduced new ink-jet models.  We can’t confirm Lexmark’s cost per page, but the models evaluated in January of 2009 had a cost per page of 5.2 cents!
  • Office and/or Shared Use – Wirth Consulting believes that networking and automatic duplexing are so critical for office and shared use that we only evaluate devices that can be equipped as such.  As you can see, far more devices for under $500 can be equipped with automatic duplex printing and networking.
  • Product R&D/Development/Marketing/Distribution – Being in this industry for so long, it’s hard to conceive of the amount of resources invested by these companies in bringing all of these new products to market.  Keep in mind that this is only one category of B2B products—can you imagine the product development that each manufacturer has invested in across all product categories?
  • According to some market-research, the “bright spot” in the digital-imaging market will be MFPs, especially color MFPs, as more customers may be seeking devices with not just print functionality, but copy, scan and/or fax functionality as well.
The bottom line is that in spite of a rotten economy, there are more product choices, features, and performance for the dollar than ever before.  On top of that, acquisition and printing costs, as well as Total Cost of Ownership, are lower.  All-in-all, it is a win-win situation for consumers.  The question is, how long can this trend continue?
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