Monday, April 30, 2007
I'll hold back on a direct description too, but if you're anything like I am, you'll want to cut-and-paste the following URL into your browser and take a look for yourself, and maybe even wander around at the site a bit after you get there.
Bill Hand - Bear Stearns
Just to follow-up, any thoughts on MemJet?
Well, MemJet, there's not a lot I can say about that. I mean the Silverbrook technology has been around for a long time. I think clearly here recently they've said some things that look like they’re a little different from some of the things that we've seen from them historically.
I would tell you that we certainly go out and look at everything that's in the market to understand what it is, but we never talk very much about what we think after we take a look at it. I really don't see much impact to Lexmark from MemJet, really kind of for two reasons. One is they have not commercialized the technology and that's a nontrivial thing, but that may just be a timing thing.
Who knows when they might get that done. Secondly, I have a hard time believing from what we've seen that this is going to compete in a price range where Lexmark competes today. It just looks like higher end stuff from what it is that we do in the market. So this is why it's not very high on our list of potential impacts to us in the marketplace.
Thanks to the Wall Street community for prompting some comments from the industry incumbents, just like they did with HP's Vyomesh Joshi in their most recent webcast. And thanks SeekingAlpha for posting the transcript.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Corey Smith, at his blog From The Innovator's Desk, has summarized the discussion. Thanks Corey, and looking forward to future discussions!
That's AllThingsD.com -- check it out!
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Note -- 4/26 10am MDT -- I've upgraded this post with a direct link to Walt's review and also a link to the brand new site, All Things D.
(Thanks Christine of Dow Jones for the heads up!)
"They've got the world's largest network of designers who are connected online. It affords high quality work for a low cost to customers. It was something that was irresistible to us."
The article quotes numbers, too: 25 in-house designers, 200 free-lancers connected by the net, and 120 total employees. Elsewhere, Logoworks' web site claims 45,000 satisfied small business customers.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Lexmark's (NYSE LXK) shares were still headed downward today, after a dramatic drop on Tuesday. The company announced downward sales trends in both inkjet and laser hardware, along with flat supplies sales.
Both companies' shares (and overall fortunes) will continue to be interesting to monitor.
One of the first good ones to come to my attention is from Donnna Bogatin at the ZDNet Micro-Markets blog with a post entitled "HP to Google, Intuit: It’s OUR small business cloud, too!". Interesting to be part of a "cloud" huh!
Tom Taulli at BloggingStocks on AOL Money and Finance also comments on the acquisition in a post entitled "Logoworks reels in HP". That title is a little strange to me, as a $100 Billion revenue giant like HP would typically be the "reel-inner" in an acquistion of a relatively tiny company. Taulli also goes on with a couple of other statements that might misdirect the reader.
Logoworks got its start in 2001 and, as its name implies, helps companies come up with cost-effective logos and other designs. The firm has a team of 40 designers who are on location (not outsourced to some far-away location around the globe).
The company did not disclose its revenues but it has served over 45,000 customers, some of which include biggies like Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) and Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT).
First, Logoworks has designers on staff but their real magic is the blending of the in-house group's talents and capacities with a worldwide network of hundreds of wired-in free-lance designers.
And, Disney and Microsoft are not the intended targets of this service! While the big names were a plus for Logowork's credibility as a stand-alone service, the acquisition is clearly a small business play for HP, as Taulli acknowledges near the end of his post.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
See HP Newsroom for the official release, now available.
McGlynn says three companies have ordered the technology from his Eagle (Idaho) startup to use in home printers expected to retail under their brand names for about $300 in early 2008.Interesting that the March piece in The Economist speculated on a potential partner list that included three names -- Dell, Panasonic, and Samsung.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Timed just a day before Xerox's earnings announcement (which was noted as lacking hard unit numbers this time around), HP adds this one to a February release along the same lines.
Their announcement reveals that a recent proprietary report from InfoTrends shows HP Indigo Presses taking a market share lead, in 2006, in the US High Volume segment of the digital press business, competing against products from Xerox, Kodak, and Xeikon. The numbers involved are 41.9% (HP Market Share), 49.5% (Market Segment growth rate), 9 percentage points (HP's market share increase), 8 percentage points (HP's market share lead), and then from another source, 40% year-to-year growth in number of impressions.
So pushing around those numbers yields some further interesting results in my "Digital Press Math". First off it's fairly easy to get to a split in the growth between HP and its competitors, showing that HP unit sales grew an astounding 80% year over year, while the collective competition grew at a not-to-be-sneezed-at 34%.
But then things get a little more problematic -- with a 40% growth in impressions year-over-year, and with numbers hovering in that neighborhood for some time now (see my February post, HP Sets Digital Press Records), why would unit growth exceed page growth by so much?
One answer, of course, is the 80% growth in US-only. Another is that new presses don't start cranking out pages immediately, and will grow along with their owners' businesses, over time. One more explanation might be that the 80% growth is more a statistical artifact, which can happen when categories shift, meaning that a product improvement (typically in performance level) causes a new product or version to be slotted into a new category -- the old "easy compare" situation.
I'm not enough of an expert these days on the details of the market to answer further, but it does prove the point, I think, that "marketing math" can be helpful in raising good questions.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Raskin makes her preference known for the out-sourced model (except for Kinko's) and cites the roll-your-own technique as "a pain" and not a big money-saver either. Sounds like my recent commentary on home photo printing!
*(as in "Baby Boomer")
for the The Hard Copy Observer, April 2007
At the Demo 2007 conference, Zink displayed prototypes of an iPod-sized portable printer and an integrated camera/printer. Jim Lyons covered this announcement in the March issue, and he recently interviewed Scott Wicker, vice president of marketing for Zink, to gain additional insight into the firm’s history and strategy moving forward.
Zink’s “Zero Ink” photo-printing introduction was part of a memorable volley of activity during the first quarter of 2007. Squeezed intellectually, if not temporally, between the pop-culture-intensive Kodak event in early February (Observer, 2/07) and the mystery-shrouded Silverbrook/Memjet announcement in March (Observer, 3/07), Zink chose the road less traveled from a printer industry perspective and appealed to the general technology crowd at Demo 2007 in late January.
Zink is marching on with its “Zero Ink” technology message and preparing to announce its initial partnerships in the second quarter of 2007. Agreeing with my assessment that the story is not about “speeds and feeds,” Wicker expresses pleasure with the company’s focus on photo printing only and its decision to go with a Demo launch. He states that the company’s marketing vision is to “enable printing where it has not been possible” with its technology’s compact form factor and lack of the requisite ink reservoirs (although Zink’s magic is partly due to its proprietary paper).
During our discussion, Wicker cleared up the origins of Zink’s technology, which may be of particular interest to veteran readers of The Hard Copy Observer. Although Zink’s roots can be traced to Polaroid, including the firm’s investors, management, and technology, the firm’s printing technology is not based on Polaroid’s infamous Opal technology (Observer, 7/01). Polaroid’s Opal technology never shipped as part of a product, but for years it was widely shown and publicized. The firm’s last public display of the technology was in photo kiosk prototypes at the 2003 PMA show (Observer, 4/03). Zink is based on a technology that is an Opal alternative and that Zink acquired when it purchased more than 100 patents from Polaroid in 2005 after the onetime camera giant filed for bankruptcy. According to Wicker, in Polaroid’s final days, when most everyone in the printing division was working on Opal and the related Onyx technologies, just a few engineers were developing what has become Zink in a “skunk works” operation. So, while there may be numerous connections between the Zink company and Polaroid, Wicker reiterates that Zink technology is not Opal.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
by Jim Lyons
The Hard Copy Observer, April 2007
One trend on which the printing and imaging industry has been focused for the last decade or so is the convergence between printers and copiers, especially in corporate environments. As vendors of office laser printers have made their products faster and more reliable and added more paper-input and output capabilities, the opportunity to compete with traditional copier vendors’ products became more feasible.
As is the case with many trends in the printing and imaging industry, we have learned that there is a product side and a services side to keep in mind when discussing printer and copier convergence. In the past, copiers were part of the corporate facilities function, and a facilities manager typically acquired a copier as part of detailed transaction including copier leasing, services, and support. Meanwhile, laser printers fell under the domain of information technology (IT) departments, whose purchase of a printer was a much simpler transaction in which the hardware was purchased outright and service and support were provided through a combination of in-house and vendor-supplied resources on an ad hoc basis.
So where are we today? I have been using my “Observations” column these last few months to cover some examples of vendors seeking to identify real customer needs and then doing their best to deliver on a solution to meet those needs. Printer and copier convergence is not what can be truthfully called a customer-driven trend, but a look at how things have gone reveals that this trend fulfills a basic marketing principle—success through finding a customer need and filling it.
In the mid- and late-1990s, vendors were long on talk but short on action when it came to printer-based MFPs. HP (NYSE HPQ), the leader in the laser printer market, pounced onto the product side of things first with its introduction of the infamous “mopier” in 1996. Now, over a decade later, HP finally has a winner with the LaserJet 4345mfp and its variants. Described as “an overnight sensation 10 years in the making” by Steve Reynolds, a senior analyst for Lyra Research, the LaserJet 4545mfp represents the culmination of HP’s efforts, as it vacillated between open and closed distribution with a variety of products from multiple engine suppliers.
The Hard Copy Observer’s first mention of managed print services was in July 1999, when HP announced the creation of its Digital Hardcopy Services (DHS) group as part of the LaserJet business. Kriss Kirchhoff, general manager of DHS, delineated four elements of DHS, including ERP output-management services, host print services, distributed print services, and managed print services. The first three, in retrospect, were really just variations on a theme, which left managed print services as the big prize, where corporate printing is outsourced to an outside vendor (i.e., HP or an HP reseller).
With the mopier of 1996 evolving to today’s LaserJet 4345mfp, and HP entering the managed print services business three years later, where are we today? I recently chatted with Ed Crowley, president of the Photizo Group, an organization that works the corporate managed print services front a great deal. According to Crowley, the interaction between products and services in 2007 is not happening exactly as predicted. He says that full outsourcing contracts are “few and far between.” Crowley sees individual behavior in corporate settings as a big inhibitor. Among managers responsible for making outsourcing decisions, the perception is that a full outsourcing movement will not stop with printers and copiers, so there is a natural reluctance to take this step when the next logical step may be outsourcing those managers’ functions.
On the other hand, Crowley sees the HP LaserJet 4345mfp and its successors “booting out copiers” and acting in a “device consolidator” role in corporate environments, reducing the number of old-school copiers, providing cost savings, and freeing IT departments from the hassle of providing support for individual printers on desktops. He suggests that, in the end, corporations may have 50 to 60 percent fewer output devices. Remember meeting user needs? In this case, the need of the customer is being met, as long as we view the customer as the IT department and the corporate entity such departments represent. If we view the end user as the customer, whether customer needs are being met is a more thorny issue, as end users may not approve of the removal of their convenient desktop printers.
HP announced an interesting acquisition on March 22 that touches on another subject that has been a favorite of mine in past columns: printing from the Internet. The firm announced it has acquired Tabblo, a small, Massachusetts-based company that has engineering and technology assets that help make printing from the Web easier for end users. The news is covered elsewhere (also, see the April 2007 edition of The Hard Copy Observer), but I wanted to look at this acquisition from the perspective of finding customer needs and then meeting them.
Pradeep Jotwani, senior vice president of imaging and printing supplies at HP, says that his vision is to make Web printing as much a “nonevent” as printing is for today’s productivity applications, and Tabblo will become an HP building block for better Web printing. The firm’s Web 2.0 technology is the first piece of a broader plan that HP will lay out later this year. While Snapfish is HP’s end-to-end system for an online digital photo community, Tabblo represents the component side of things. Through the use of Tabblo’s technology, Web properties will be able to embed tools for better printing from Web sites, including blog sites, map sites, or collections. Of course, like many of the Web printing initiatives going back more than a decade now, the Tabblo initiative will be “printer vendor agnostic,” and Jotwani sums the initiative up from a customer-benefit perspective. “It’s a leadership play that will help the whole industry. But most of all, it helps the customer.”
Monday, April 16, 2007
VJ, I wonder if you might just compare Edgeline a little bit to Memjet. There's been a lot of talk lately on Memjet. And --
I think there's a lot of talk there but they need to introduce a product first. That's how I always think about it. We take all of our competitors very seriously, but they have shown a prototype and we could always show a prototype in our lab three or four years ago. So in my mind, there is a lot of work from showing a prototype to commercialize a technology and actually introduce and get the feedback from the customers. So there is a lot of work to do. But, clearly, what they are telling you, and telling all of us, inkjet is a great technology, and I think that's the clear, clear confirmation that we are getting in terms of where we want to go for high-throughput color.
The second thing, in my mind, is they are showing a lot of concepts. I think they need to focus on which particular customer segment that they want to focus their technology and make a contribution. Because it's very easy to show concepts, but then you have to really decide that, okay, this is the customer that you want to go after and make a contribution. I think in our mind
Edgeline is a lot of hard work and $1.4 billion we've spent on scalable printing technology. This is really the implementation that as I talked about, going from home to small and medium business to retail photo kiosks to large format business now, entering into the enterprise market. I think that you need that kind of a scale, and you get kind of a volume to really have reliability and quality and performance that Hewlett-Packard is showing. So they have a lot of work to do to get that kind of a volume, get that kind of a manufacturing processes and cost structure to be really effective.
So, bottom line, you feel like Memjet's very unlikely to be a material threat to your Edgeline business and your other core printing business in inkjet and laser in the next couple of years?
We take everybody seriously, so it's their job to figure out how to make a contribution. We focus on our customer.
Later in the Q&A, Richard Gardner of Citibank sought to compare the Xerox (NYSE XRX) WorkCentre 7600 series and Canon ImageRUNNER 5180 to Edgline CM8060 and CM8050 Color MFP models, and Joshi, not shying away from comparisons, suggested he also include the Ricoh AFC 3260!
Good reading at Edgeline Webcast web page, where you can click through to the PDF of the transcript.
Friday, April 13, 2007
At the Channel Register blog a post by Eric Doyle, entitled "HP claims latest printer a record-breaker", contains an interesting summary of the announcement, but I highly recommend checking out the comments. Some interesting history!
Rory Reid at Cnet's Crave gadget blog uses some colorful language in his assessment of Edgeline, in "HP EdgeLine CM8060: Super-fast printing". I'm not sure I'd identify the CM8060 as a "gadget" but I guess that's a subjective call. (Thanks for the tip, Tom!)
And Vince Ferraro's LaserJet blog now has company in the official HP blog roll. There's a new Enterprise Printing blog that's just getting started.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Web 2.0 Expo in San Fran? -- very cool but will wait for the Fall version. (The bloggers will probably cover this one pretty well.)
Print-on-Demand in Boston? -- my printer industry buddies will have to fill me in.
In what looks like the busiest conference week in the history of high tech, I'm sticking around my hometown of Boise ID for the third annual Kickstart event, April 18th and 19th! Rich Sloan of Startupnation.com, Ben McConnell of Church of the Customer, and Idaho's own Caleb Chung, inventor of Furby & Pleo, all convening in Boise, along with everybody who's anybody in the entrepreneurial community, all in my home town. Who could miss this??? Hope to see you there!
Hewlett-Packard, which is known for charging a premium for its corporate printers, introduced on Wednesday a couple of high-volume enterprise products with new technology that the company claims reduces the cost of color printing by as much as 30%.
Gonsalves goes on to solicit a little skepticism from an industry analyst (again, my bolding):
Ian Hamilton, analyst for Current Analysis, said he couldn't say whether HP's claims were real. "We're still doing our research," he said. "Typically, HP has not been in the forefront in offering the lowest cost of ownership over the life of their products..."
Hamilton eventually cuts HP a bit of a break:
"If they're able to do that successfully [reduce overall printing cost], then they'll kick out one of the value propositions of their competitors..."
Mike Pervere, HP's Edgeline Product Marketing manager, is also quoted, but his remarks keep to the factual and upbeat!
Generally, in news following the announcement of the HP CM8060 and CM8050 Color MFPs with HP Edgeline Technology, coverage has been rather light, actually -- the Google News Index* comes up with a paltry reading of 4 hits (though a more respectable 41 articles are lumped under the first item.) Maybe after tomorrow's webcast we'll see a surge?
For another view, from a source that knows the business from the customer level, read Corey Smith of Fisher's Document Systems.
BTW I'm adding Corey's blog, From The Innovator's Desk, to my blogroll to the right, for future reference.
*stay tuned for an upcoming post on the Google News Index
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
PC Magazine's veteran printer writer M. David Stone covers the Edgeline printers in "HP Pushes Ink Jet Printing to 70 Pages per Minute" where he brings in comparisons to the March Silverbrook Memjet demonstrations and also recent Xerox (NYSE XRX) solid ink demos that have shown remarkable print speed. Stone recalls a similar Xerox demo roughly ten years ago, which speaks to the time it may take to refine technology from eye-popping demo to product ready to ship.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Update -- Danny's "The Print Shop" piece is available on the US PC World site now, dated 4/9/2007.
Update 4/12/2007 -- A sharp-eyed blogger at The Blueprint, John Cronin, caught a change in the Memjet Silverbrook web site that leads to some interesting speculation on his part. (I only caught his 4/10 post "What will Make Monochrome Printers Obsolete?" today.)
Update 4/23/2007 -- I'll do another full MemJet press post tomorrow, but for now, don't want to overlook this good summary from the photo world.
Monday, April 09, 2007
The nicely researched and well-written article covers VJ's drive to adapt HP's Printing and Imaging strategy to the fast-changing world of information dissemination that includes a wide variety of much-discussed Web 2.0 technologies, and more often than not does not include printing. Thus HP's interest as manifested in a wide variety of moves, some announced, such as the Tabblo acquistion I covered two weeks ago, as well as a variety of upcoming moves being hinted at. Darlin also quotes Pradeep Jotwani, HP's senior VP of the printer supplies vision, who I've also interviewed for my April 2007 Observations which will be online in a day or two. So check back for further perspective!
Friday, April 06, 2007
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Congratulations Nor Rae on your well-deserved promotion!
Monday, April 02, 2007
Sunday, April 01, 2007
In addition the Staples exclusive HP OJ Pro K5400dn color inkjet printer is now on sale at $179.98, $20 off its month-ago introductory price.
Google Paper will be upsetting the printer supplies balance of power from day one, beginning today April 1, 2007.