Tuesday, January 30, 2007

HP's Shadow -- more from the Lyra Symposium

The anticipated panel discussion on the MFP market finally came, as the final session before lunch. The panel was moderated by Steve Reynolds, Senior Lyra Research analyst, and included David Bates, of Xerox Corporation, Don Hsieh, Konica Minolta, Mark Meisberger, Samsung Electronics America, Paul Preo, IBM Printing Systems Division, and Chris Privon, HP (NYSE HPQ).

While the Ricoh representative didn’t make it, the joke (?) was that with IBM Printing Systems on the panel, wasn’t that now all the same? And the discussion did go to their deal announced last week, and what it meant for the industry at large and Lexmark in particular. Steve Reynolds interjected that the word following the deal from IBM executives was that existing vendor relationships would remain and indeed be strengthened, but admitted doubt, with Ricoh themselves as well as Samsung, as an incumbent Ricoh laser supplier, seeming to have an inside track in the long run.

Much of the remainder of the discussion during the panel continued the theme from the two previous speakers – Chris Privon of HP, on "High-Performance Innovation in Business Printing", and Steve Reynolds, with a presentation entitled "Originals and Copies: Discussing Edgeline Technology and Other Office MFP Trends". Edgeline is HP’s inkjet-based printer/copier technology announced in 2006, currently deployed in their photo kiosk products, and "coming to an office printer near you" in Spring 2007, and creating waves in the industry along the way. In fact Reynolds’ presentation was admittedly divided into three parts: 1) an update on the traditional copier segments and players, 2) HP’s entry into the copier markets with the HP 4345mfp (which he describes as an “overnight success ten years in the making”), and 3) the looming presence of Edgeline-based products.

It’s interesting to observe the shadow that HP casts across the printing industry, even in the copier category, with its strong traditional players like Xerox, Canon, and Ricoh. HP’s relentless pursuit of market opportunities is amazing to watch in this industry as a whole and at this conference specifically. They openly tout business-oriented goals like the "$30 Billion opportunity" they refer to in their Edgeline discussions, but at the same time strive to best meet customer needs knowing that’s what will determine victory in the end.

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