Monday, January 12, 2009

Samsung high-end MFP design -- look to the kitchen?

Business Week's Cliff Edwards has a piece on printers, Samsung specifically, "Samsung: Rethinking the Printer Business", that highlights the company's emphasis on industrial design and its belief that it can be a potential competitive advantage in the printer business.

We've become accustomed to seeing the Samsung ML-1630 monochrome laser printer (pictured below-left), and then the follow-up SCX-4500 all-in-one (featured by Business Week), and hearing about these products' "piano-like" sleekness and good looks, but what about applying these same design ideas to higher-end departmental-scale printers and copiers? The article quotes Samsung Electronics digital media group's president, J.W. Park, as pressing for the moving up of the design emphasis all the way to "giant office printers".

Business Week then quotes market leader HP's (NYSE HPQ) laser printer business leader, David Murphy, in a somewhat disparaging remark that includes the phrase "form follows function". While office-based buyers may or may not be as subject to style as the consumer, viewers of the advertising-industry-oriented series Mad Men, set in the early '60's, can appreciate the evolution in form as well as function that's taken place with office copiers in the intervening decades.

But back to Samsung, and a glimpse into what they might do with larger office machines in the future. In a closer match of product size if not target market, Samsung kitchen appliances are known for stylish design as a trademark of their brand and some would say competitive advantage (for an example, see "NEWS: Samsung Combines Performance and Style With Its New Kitchen Solutions").

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