Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Day One at Lyra Europe

After a welcome from Lyra’s Frank Stefansson, CEO and Executive Vice President, the conference keynote was offered up by Bertrand Cerisier, VP and Director of Marketing with Xerox Europe (NYSE XRX). The “Office Printing” module followed, with Lyra’s Ann Preide and Larry Jamieson, presenting on “Redefining the Office Printing Environment: Pages and Hardware” and “Printing in the Office: Lyra's 2008 SME Survey of Five European Countries”, respectively, followed by industry member Wouter Koelewijn, CEO of X-Solutions, presenting on “Maintaining Control of Document Workflow”.

The afternoon continued, appropriate to the just-completed Drupa conference, with a session on “Wide Format and Graphics Arts”, shifting the balance to industry reps, with HP (NYSE HPQ) represented by Josep Tarradas, Lab Manager of their Large Format Division and Andrew Stewart, Worldwide Sales and Marketing Director for Switzerland’s Ilford Imaging. The execs spoke to the topics of environmental and profitability, respectively, but interestingly, more and more its clear the two need to be tightly integrated – one without the other can’t really sustain in the long term. The President of Lyra Research, Charles LeCompte, concluded the session with a near-term reflection, “Did Ink Jet Emerge at DRUPA?”.

While it’s impossible to adequately summarize a conference in a blog posting, I’ll try to offer a highlight or two from each presentation.

Cerisier – Now that we’re comfortable with the new Xerox logo (which proved a bit of a distraction at the January Lyra Symposium, when it was brand new), the content can take back over, and this glimpse of a turbulent market (“Doom or boom”) was compelling. His price erosion slide, certainly accurate in its data, is still is a bit of a head-scratcher – low-end color lasers with price erosion rate of 25% a year and higher-end MFP’s at 12%? Something to ponder, when a lower end category is coming down so much faster than one at the higher-end?

Priede – A couple of interesting points, somewhat tangential to the traditional “data dump” that this top-of-the-conference presentation traditionally provides, giving at least a high-level glimpse into Lyra’s treasure trove of data. Unit and dollar growth, through 2011, by printer category is typically presented, but a new (to me anyway) twist is the introduction of page growth by category, which of course ties together hardware and supplies business conditions, at least in the macro sense. And kudos to Lyra for a little thing – all the slides refer to “colour” printers! When in Rome…

Jamieson – A glimpse into this presentation can be gained by reviewing a “preview” at the Lyra web site. (See “The Lyra Europe Imaging Conference Reveals Color Printing Profiles Dividing Eastern and Western Europe”.) Lyra’s survey findings present a mix of the expected along with some at least mild surprises.

Koelewijn – User Interface (i.e. UI) is key to workflow, with an interesting analogy to the iPod user experience, also one of my favorite examples to use when talking about the marketing of products and the marketing of services.

Tarradas – Everything (well maybe not quite) you ever wanted to know about HP’s Latex Inks, originally announced in March with follow-up at Drupa, with some interesting name-dropping: Nike, Microsoft, and WalMart are all favorably inclined towards Green solutions in their indoor and outdoor promotional signage, and this preference will drive the business, including all the intermediaries and other players in the business ecosystem.

Stewart – An overview of the aqueous inkjet hardware and supplies opportunity and defining its relative positioning. Quoting from one of the presentation’s slides, “The aqueous market has positioned itself as a high quality indoor graphics market whereas the solvent market encompasses the high volume and outdoor signage market, Both formats co-exist with very different market strategies and in many cases under the same roof.”

LeCompte – Answers his own question about inkjet emerging at Drupa with a somewhat conditional “absolutely”, with a plethora of offerings from all the usual suspects (especially, as he points out, those attempting to vault squarely into the commercial print space using new applications of inkjet technology). His favorite product at the show? The $2.5 million HP (NYSE HPQ) Inkjet Web Press, due to ship in September 2009. Which relates to his “condition” about Drupa and inkjet – all the “showy” were not shipping products.

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