Back in the mid to late Eighties, I can remember always getting my ass kicked by Sharp systems. Even better, if you owned a Sharp dealership you were in play to be bought by Alco Standard (January 1997 Alco Standard split in to two companies with one becoming Ikon Office Solutions). It was no fun having to compete against an Alco Standard Dealership.
However, there is always change in every industry, sometimes that change can be good or bad. In Sharp's case it was bad when one day Ikon decided to dump Sharp. That day, was a day that changed our industry forever. Sharp had no Direct Channel back them, Alco aka Ikon was on a buying spree and acquiring many Sharp dealerships. That one day served as a wake up call to most copier manufacturers, that they needed to control their distribution, which eventually led to every manufacturer having their own Direct Channel in the US.
Today, Sharp Corp is back in the news with an anticipated $256 million dollar loss. Back in February of 2010, Panasonic announced that they were getting out of the A3 copier business). Panasonic did reinvent itself, focusing more on high tech car parts and energy efficient homes. They moved away from Smart Phones, TV's and copiers!
In recent stories from various new agencies it's been speculated that Sharp will not sell it's display business unit, in addition it was reported that they are not considering exiting the solar battery or home-use LED businesses.
All has remained quiet about the copier business unit, maybe no news is good news?
In May, Sharp will present a new business plan that will allow them to borrow even more from Japanese banks. It is speculated that the new round of borrowing will be a debt equity swap.
I can't see how a company that is so mired in debt would have the funds to continue a quality rate of research and development. Especially when it comes to imaging equipment. Why, focus R & D on a business channel that some analysts state is on the decline.
May will be here before we know it, if I were a betting person, I would bet that nothing will change. Sharp will continue to be Sharp. Sharp will still be in business, Sharp will continue to manufacture copiers. But, if you're a Sharp dealer is that what you're looking for, everything to stay status quo, especially when our industry is continuing to change?
Services led industry, workflow, business processes is the wave of the future.
Our industry needs consolidation for the manufacturing of copiers, there are too many players, and lets face facts, we're all stealing business from each other.