The year is 2039. It's hard to believe that it's been 15 years since the mighty Xerox Corporation folded. One remembers that statement in December of 2018 that touted Xerox "Unable to Adjust". My how the mighty have fallen.
It wasn't only Xerox that fell to the paperless society that we now see today.
Let's take a trip back to late 2022, it was late in November that Canon announced that they were going to cease to manufacturing A3 multi-functional devices. That decision was made because the need for 11x17 size paper and legal paper had dwindled to a paltry one percent of the market. In the previous year leading up to 2022 Canon had developed the first A4 multi-functional copier (we're going to use MFP) that allowed for variable print speed. Clients would purchase or lease the color A4 MFP and would then purchase a one year (renewable) speed license. Kinda smart thinking from Canon, since this allowed them to have a subscription model cash cow with clients renewing the speed licensing every year. In addition the cost to maintain and supply the device was billed at a flat rate per month. High speed licenses equaled a higher monthly cost and low speed licenses usually cost less.
Soon after Canon announced the demise of A3 multi-functional devices other copier manufacturers followed their lead. Ricoh, Konica Minolta, Kyocera and Xerox did the same.
TOSHIBA & SHARP
Right, you're thinking why is there no mention of Sharp or Toshiba?
In late 2018, a prominent share holder of Toshiba Corporation made a statement that Toshiba should sell Toshiba Tec. The reasoning behind the statement was two fold. One was to increase to inject some additional capital for Toshiba to pay down the mountain of debt. In addition was the slowing demand for PC's and multifunctional copiers. In mid 2019 Toshiba Corporation sold Toshiba Tec to Terry Gou CEO of Foxconn (Taiwan). Back in 2016 Foxconn had purchased Sharp Corporation and the decision to purchase Toshiba allowed Foxconn to double their market share in Asia for MFP's.
Good decision right? Well almost, you see in early 2021 China (Peoples Republic of China) decided that they would annex Taiwan (Republic of China). There was no war, just one day in late August the Chinese marched in and took control. Yes, many countries around the world were extremely upset, however no country would come to the aid of Taiwan. The cost of war and the recession in the West meant that the Allies for Taiwan would sit this one out.
Retaliation for the annexation of Taiwan was one of economic choice from the west. No longer would those companies from the west purchase any products from the Peoples Republic of China. I guess we were all hoping that we would cripple them financially. Thus in less than one years time, both Sharp & Toshiba were eliminated from the copier industry.
Ricoh & Konica Minolta
It's now 2028, a mere six years after Canon developed their variable speed A4 color MFP. Xerox was not longer a player since they had folded in early 2024. We're now down to three copier manufacturers Canon, Konica Minolta and Ricoh. Each of these companies wanted to hang to the dwindling supply of clicks (prints from MFP's, no one copies anymore) or as long as they could.
Not sure if you remember this, but back in 2018 Ricoh Corporation had announced an agreement with a robotics company in the US. That announcement made mention that Ricoh would be the service provider for robots that XYZ Corporation was manufacturing. Several years later Ricoh bought that company, a few years later they bought Boston Scientific and in ten years Ricoh had diversified into the largest manufacturer of Robots in the World. Planned obsolescence at it's finest.
I'm especially fond of my car robot that sits in the truck of my car. Flat tire, window wash, wash the car, put air in the tires. With one Alexa command, my robot could do anything while I relax!
Diversification was also good to KonicaMinolta. In the years from 2018-2028 KonicaMinolta started acquiring health care tech companies. They too saw the boom in health care since the largest segment of the population of the world was now entering or close to the 80 years of age. The once mighty camera companies of Konica and Minolta now controlled/owned almost 50% of the health care tech companies in the world. You see putting ink on paper wasn't making anywhere near the profit of extending peoples lives with advanced technology.
Back to Canon
Yes, it seems we're down to Canon. Canon also had diversified back in 2017 or was it 2018? They had acquired Toshiba Medical Systems from Toshiba. In 2028 Canon had also expanded it's health care holdings that they were heavily divested in health care tech companies. Canon proved to be a might competitor of KonicaMinolta.
One technology that Canon did invest heavily into over the last five years was 3D printing. By 2028 Canon had more than 50% of the SMB market for 3D home printers. Every home had a 3D printer and Canon was the brand of choice. However, that brand did not come cheap. I think it was in 2026 when Canon Corporation acquired HP, and it wasn't for their printers. It was because HP had developed 3D print technology that would produce almost anything in less than a minute.
The 3D printers pretty much wiped out Amazon and retail stores in a matter of a few years. There was no need to go out and buy anything except for food. Need a light bulb, a blanket, pillow, sheets, utensils, cups, whatever you needed you could just print in minutes.
Keep in mind that all of these companies were still manufacturing MFP's just not as many as they used to.
It's now 2039, the last paper mill in the world has closed it's door. Paper is no longer required or used. We have transformed to a complete digital society. What was once started from the papyrus plant is now ancient history.