This Week in Imaging: Ricoh NOT Getting Out of Print
It all started with a headline Out of Print: Investors Cheer Ricoh’s Pandemic-Inspired Move Away from Paper.
Some took this to mean that Ricoh is getting out of print, which isn’t so. A reading of Ricoh’s current five-year business plan indicates that it’s ambitiously planning to move to digital-transformation services, in particular those for automating typical business processes (something it had announced in November 2020). These processes include automating labor-consuming processes such as processing account payables and receivables. (Ricoh Europe also released a statement this week confirming it isn’t exiting print.)
By its fiscal-year 2025, Ricoh is projecting that digital-transformation services will make up 54 percent of its operating profit, while office printers and MFPs, as well as commercial printing, will make up 25 percent of operating profit.
Interestingly, Ricoh also addressed how solutions using artificial intelligence (AI) will replace human labor. By 2030, it projects that robots and AI will replace 47 percent of jobs in the United States; 35 percent of jobs in Europe; and 49 percent of jobs in Japan – a lot of jobs.
Within about a week of Ricoh’s posting of its business plan, the New York Times also published The Robots are Coming for Phil in Accounting, which described how office-process automation may lead to fewer white-collar jobs, including accounting. ( Gone, for instance, are many data-entry clerks). There’s still a lot of debate on this, but the article notes:
“Research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston University economists indicated that task automation has outpaced the creation of new jobs since the late 1980s, possibly because of popular ‘so-so technologies’ that are sufficient to replace human beings, but do not boost productivity or job creation.”
In sum, the big question for Ricoh isn’t whether it’s getting out of print, but whether it can reach its revenue goals for digital-transformation services.
Canon Targets New Supplies
Also of note this week was Canon Inc.’s announcement that it had filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) against unauthorized third-party sellers of toner containers that it alleges infringe on its patents. What’s different is that Canon typically goes after third-party toner cartridges designed for use with HP Inc. laser printers (and sometimes Canon laser printers), typically by either suing these companies or requesting Amazon to remove their toner cartridges from the Amazon ecommerce website, alleging that they infringe on Canon patents.
But with its new ITC complaint, Canon is now targeting marketers of toner containers designed for use with Canon imageRUNNERs MFPs. The firm has also filed lawsuits against various companies – 26 in total – across the United States. And while typically these companies consist of lesser-known companies, among those Canon is now targeting are more well-established companies, including Ninestar Corporation (parent company of Lexmark International), Static Control Components’ and Katun. With its ITC complaint, Canon is seeking to bar these companies from introducing and selling toner supplies for imageRUNNER MFPs in the United States.
Meanwhile, rival Ninestar is not deterred. Just days after Canon’s big announcement, Ninestar Corporation introduced new toner containers for Canon’s imageRUNNER C5500 series:
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