Wednesday, January 30, 2008

End of the Symposium -- Software, Supplies, Digital Photography and Home Printing, and "Green"

Live from the 2008 Lyra Imaging Symposium in Rancho Mirage CA

The 2008 Lyra Imaging Symposium is history, but I’m still in Rancho Mirage compiling some final notes so I believe this still qualifies a “live”, but it will definitely be the last post under that mantle.

Jay Vleeschhouwer, Managing Director, Merrill Lynch opened the mid-morning session following the Commercial and Production Printing module, with a presentation Adobe Sytems (NASDAQ ADBE) and other imaging-related software companies entitled “A Financial Analyst Perspective on Key Imaging Software Companies”. It was Jay’s turn to participate in a newer Symposium tradition, a Wall Street perspective on a particular company or market segment, that has been built on the popular and more wide-ranging Wall Street panels that close each day of the conference.

Presentations and panels from industry participants and Lyra analysts moved us into the enormous and lucrative supplies segment of our business. The discussions followed a similar agenda to Lyras's August event, which seemed cram-packed as a day-long endeavor, so today's couple-of-hours-long agenda was really a lot to take in! The presentations included “Keynote: The Way Forward—Legal Perspectives on the Digital Imaging Consumables Industry”, from Edward O'Connor, Esq., Partner, Trial Division, The Eclipse Group; “Color and Cost Performance: Forecasting Toner Market Trends”, by Cortney Kasuba, Research Analyst, Lyra Research; “Beyond the Laser Bias: Inkjet Market Trends and Forecasts”, presented by Andy Lippman, also a Research Analyst with Lyra; “Changing Channels: The Supplies Distributor Perspective”, by Scott Zahl, Vice President of Vendor Management, Ingram Micro; and “The Hard Copy Supplies Journal Top Trends & Panel Discussion”, with Moderator Charles Brewer, Managing Editor, The Hard Copy Supplies Journal, Lyra Research; Rob Leonard, President, Leonard Consulting Group; Liz Leung, Director of Consumer Supplies, Epson America; and Brad Roderick, Executive Vice President, LaserCycle/InkCycle.

As we entered into the final afternoon and the home stretch, first speaker under the banner of Consumer Imaging and Digital Photography with a great presentation titled “Recent Technology Challenges in Digital Photographic Print Quality”, Catherine Fiasconaro, Vice President, Operations and Director, SpencerLab Digital Color Laboratory, tracked her well-known company’s marketing research studies probing consumers digital photo printing perceptions and habits. One of her conclusions I found very compelling and consistent with my own patterns was a shift from preferring AgX (aka Silver Halide) prints, to accepting and believing that home inkjet print quality could actually exceed that of the traditional method, to still believing it but not wanting the bother of home printing of anything but a small number of prints.

Then Steve Hoffenberg, Director, Consumer Imaging Research, Lyra Research, presented "Beyond Photo Output: Anticipating Opportunities in the Evolving Photo Culture", which offered two revenue and profit paths for the photo printing business – photo books that I’ve also covered in this blog in numerous posts, and the "Long Tail" approach to myriad specialty products that are custom-imprinted with customers’ digital images.

Steve then moderated an interesting panel from industry participants in those two areas, including Tomasz Johannsen, Director, Product Management, EZ Prints; Graham McFarland, President and CEO, ExpressDigital; and Chad Richard, Chief Executive Officer, Simple Star.

Larry Jamieson, Director, Hard Copy Industry Advisory Service for Lyra, presented his Home Printing recap, this year named “Consumer and SOHO Printing in an iPhone World”, and he was even gracious enough to use my iPhone printing anecdote (see "2007 in Review: iPhone Printing") in his opening, and offered a trend showing survey data revealing a down-turn in the home printer-to-PC ratio.

The final module of the Symposium was “Green” oriented, with the keynote, “The Greening of the Printing Industry” by Michael Hoffmann, Senior Vice President, with the (NYSE HPQ) Imaging and Printing Group’s (IPG) Supplies organization.

In stressing the importance of Green issues to HP’s customers, Hoffmann quoted a figure of 80% of Enterprise IT RFQs received in recent times include environmental considerations. He spoke to numerous initiatives especially around energy savings, both in terms of their products’ power consumption, as well as energy used by HP’s sprawling operations that surround the globe. HP is also touting decreased waste initiatives, with actions as basic as making duplex printing easier, but also promoting more efficient printing from the web (see “. Product recycling is big with HP and has been for decades, though with increasing emphasis – see today’s announcement about their conversion to manufacturing inkjet cartridges with recycled plastic. (See announcement.) Hoffmann closed with a compelling industry call to action, that will be posted here when I get the exact text.

Lyra Founder Charles LeCompte offered his view of the importance of Green issues in ” Cradle to Grave: Lyra's Whole-View Environmental Impact Analysis of the Digital Imaging Industry” with a very interesting and bold presentation of the environmental “opportunity” facing our industry. Like his “Year 2000” presentation I wrote about (see "Observations: In the Year 2000...") earliler this month, LeCompte suggested some industry steps including following Hoffmann’s Call to Action or something like it.

The day and the conference closed out with the “Wall Street Watch, Round 2” panel, moderated by LeCompte and including Shannon Cross, Principal, Cross Research, and Bill Fearnley, Jr., Managing Director, PC and Enterprise Hardware, FTN Midwest Securities Corporation, and Steve Reynolds, Lyra Analyst. Kodak (who had just announced earnings earlier in the day) HP, Dell, and others were fair game during this, again, wide-ranging discussion, and the remaining audience greatly appreciated the participation of Cross and Fearnley, who with all the earnings announcements, Fed moves, etc, of the last days were seriously and admittedly a bit sleep-deprived!

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