I’m reviewing some trends that I am seeing regarding the office color MFP and production color segments. Specifically changes to the product mix, price positioning, as well as tactics/practices that are being used to help push color systems.

I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts about the following trends:


1) Office Color HW Costs Falling

Many manufacturers expanded low-priced color MFP options or lowered pricing/increased value of latest generations.

* Canon, Konica, Oce, and Panasonic all launched new A4 color desktops under copier brands. Canon, Konica, Oce, and Panasonics were only rebranded A4 printers and would not appeal to many office environments. But still provide an entry-level color option within their copier brands.

* Ricoh expanded low-end A3 color range with addition of MP C2030 ($5.5k)/ MP C2050 ($5.8k)/ and MP C2550 ($7.5). It reduced pricing / improved value with MP C2800 ($10.7k) /C3300 ($12.5k) / C4000 ($14k) / and C5000 ($17k), while offering standard generational improvements.

What is the general consensus on how the C2030/C2050 has helped lure B2C or convenience color users that may have been deterred by Color HW sticker shock with the previous C2000/C2500 systems?

* Sharp went another direction with its A4 MFPs and positioned its Frontier line as a competitor against both A3 Copiers and A4 Printers – offers major HW discounts from A3 copiers. Not sure if you noticed, but the Frontier C311/C401's shipments were far higher in Q1 than in Q2. Not sure if this is due to initial "deliveries" to dealers in Q1, while Q2 was actually from sales and orders from dealers to restock inventories.

Does anyone see these systems beating out A3 color MFPs or gaining overall market share from Seg. 3 A3 color MFPs?



2) MFRs look to light production as targeted growth area:

Following Konica Minolta's success with the bizhub Pro C6500/5500 and launch of 2nd generation Pro C6501/C5501, Ricoh and Canon (soon) have entered the color light production segment.

* Canon's imageRUNNER Advanced Pro C9060 and C9070, should help fill the light production gap between iR C5185 and imagePRESS C6000/C7000. The forthcoming imageRUNNER Advance C7065 (60ppm/65ppm) and C7055 (50ppm/55ppm) should help further fill-in this speed gap (but these are office systems). The word is that these Pro models will have very long-lasting parts and low maintenance costs, making the prospect of selling them less scary from a margin perspective than other light production/production systems.


* The last year brought Ricoh’s entrance into the color light production and mid-production space with the C900/C900s and the Pro C550EX/C700EX. Although the C900 looks like a solid first step into color production, there may be some growing pains (outside of IKON) due to dealers' lack of production experience/contacts and printers' existing brand loyalty/hesitations about buying a 1st generation system.

Does anyone see these replacing or beating Xerox/Konica/Canon systems?

The Aficio Pro C550EX and Pro C700EX seem more like short term solutions, since they are basically the C6000/c7500 with an added standard LCT and Fiery server. However, they still add two more color light production systems to Ricoh's lineup.

Does anyone see these replacing or beating Xerox/Konica/Canon systems?



3) MFRs Expand HV Office Color Lines:

Manufactures also identified HV office color as a growth segment and expanded their lines in that segment.

* Canon iR Advanced C7065 (60ppm/65ppm) C7055 (50ppm/55ppm), and C5051 (51ppm/51ppm) will collectively replace the iR C5185 (51ppm). Giving Canon two brand new HV office color options.

* Kyocera Mita's TASKalfa 750c and TASKalfa 500ci series launches gave the company five MFPs with color output speeds above 40-ppm, compared to zero models at this time last year.

* Toshiba's e-STUDIO5520C/6520C/6530C and e-STUDIO5530C PRO/STUDIO7030C PRO gave the vendor 5 MFPs with color speed above 55-ppm (vs. 1 last year) and the 7030c PRO (75ppm/70ppm) opened up a new user base to Toshiba. Pro models will often be positioned as light production models.



4) Improved Consumable yields and costs

* Konica Minolta continues to shift its color MFPs away from using imaging units featuring both drum-developer to offering separate mono developer and drums. This provides greater cost benefits for mono output and allows lower Mono CPC. Konica Minolta also increased toner and other consumable yields in its latest generation and forthcoming Color MFPs.

* Xerox' ColorQube turned the sales model on its head with three-tier coverage based usage costs. So far street pricing seems to reflect Xerox' stated savings, but the challenge will be justifying HW costs.

Xerox barely changed consumable yields from WC 7300 to WC 7400, but the new LED-based models' mono and CLR toner have 18 and 11 percent lower MSRPs, respectively.

* Toshiba and Kyocera improved consumable yields with their new color MFP generations. Brand new systems' yields are even higher.

* Sharp's new A3 CLR MFP generations had unchanged toner & drum yields- but significantly expanded CLR and BW Developer yields

* Conversely Ricoh only changed yields on the C2050/C2030/C2550, shifting to far lower capacity toner than C2000/C2500. But the cons are lower cost too and the HW price is far lower too so overall value is relatively unchanged.



5) Trend to 11x17 single click metering for color

Xerox started this with its production systems, but 11x17 single click is becoming increasingly offered with all office & light production color systems.

This is especially true for MFRs’ direct operations. Dealers that do not offer A3 CLR single-click are having a hard time beating this from an end-user value standpoint, but most can’t justify it from a margin/cost standpoint.


6) Increased promotions

I’ve seen a number or leasing and click promotions, but I have less visibility for many of these. Has anyone noticed trends in competitive promotions to help push color systems and gain share?

How about other emerging strategies or tactics etc?



7) If you are seeing any other trends that are emerging or being increasingly used to gain a competitive advantage within the <$100k color range I would be interested in hearing those too. Thanks for the insight!
Original Post
You stated and asked:

"* The last year brought Ricoh’s entrance into the color light production and mid-production space with the C900/C900s and the Pro C550EX/C700EX. Although the C900 looks like a solid first step into color production, there may be some growing pains (outside of IKON) due to dealers' lack of production experience/contacts and printers' existing brand loyalty/hesitations about buying a 1st generation system.

Does anyone see these replacing or beating Xerox/Konica/Canon systems?"

The answer to the question is "No."

The C900 is struggling mightily and the other competitive Products from Canon, Konica Minolta, and Oce are far superior.

Only IKON will have success with it's mandate to focus here and to win deals by continuosly lowering price. This will hurth them long-term as customers being sold these Machines will upgrade to someone other than IKON / Ricoh.
From Ricoh's standpoint especially with thelight to mid production environment the C900 has everything except the ruputation of a Production oriented vendor. If you look at the production environment the 907/1107/1357 product family have no reputation and the C900 and C550/700EX have none either. Now if RICOH were to purchase Oce . . . oooops, blew the wad on the IKON purchase.
quote:
* Ricoh expanded low-end A3 color range with addition of MP C2030 ($5.5k)/ MP C2050 ($5.8k)/ and MP C2550 ($7.5). It reduced pricing / improved value with MP C2800 ($10.7k) /C3300 ($12.5k) / C4000 ($14k) / and C5000 ($17k), while offering standard generational improvements.

What is the general consensus on how the C2030/C2050 has helped lure B2C or convenience color users that may have been deterred by Color HW sticker shock with the previous C2000/C2500 systems?


In about 5 placements, I've been able to take customers from existing A4 color devices and put them into one of these models for not much more than what they were paying, the high cost of A4 color consumables was the key when the user was making about 1,000 color pages per month along with 1,500 or more black.

The low price cpc is an advantage with the Ricoh models. I have used a few of these systems as seed models, meaning that they take the color unit and commit to the lowest possible maintenance and supply cpc for color. We'll see how that goes. In reference to pricing, we'll for a 25ppm mono and a 25ppm color the cost on a lease is a difference of $10 more for the color device.
"4) Improved Consumable yields and costs

* Konica Minolta continues to shift its color MFPs away from using imaging units featuring both drum-developer to offering separate mono developer and drums. This provides greater cost benefits for mono output and allows lower Mono CPC. Konica Minolta also increased toner and other consumable yields in its latest generation and forthcoming Color MFPs."

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Konica Minolta Boosts Productivity for Small- to Mid-Sized Businesses and Workgroups with New Color MFPs

Ramsey, N.J. - September 21, 2009 - Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc. (Konica Minolta), a leading provider of advanced imaging and networking technologies for the desktop to the print shop, today launched the next wave of color multifunctional printers (MFPs - print, copy, fax, scan all-in-one system) in the award-winning bizhub® product line. These new color systems, which include the bizhub C452, bizhub C360, bizhub C280, and bizhub C220, are designed to meet the diverse needs of small- to mid-sized office workgroups, both for color as well as black and white environments, from end-users needing only occasional color or have graphic output requirements to those that mainly generate monochrome output. They can handle a heavy workload with their robust and efficient productivity features, and offer the same functionality and features at different speeds, ranging from 45 pages per minute (ppm) to 22 ppm.

These full-color MFPs offer color-specific tools for the art professionals such as unique Pantone colors, advanced queue management and/or need for additional processing speed, as well as Fiery® support for broader and more specific color requirements. By producing the same robust productivity of a black and white device, the new office systems are an ideal replacement for current monochrome users seeking an efficient, high quality replacement to transition to color output.

"Customers requiring a versatile MFP can rely on our newest color systems to deliver not only high impact color and image quality, but also the flexibility to handle a variety of output needs" said Kevin Kern, Vice President, Marketing, Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A. Inc. "Thanks to our exclusive Emperon® Print System, our end-users will be able to count on Konica Minolta to achieve excellent image quality as well as compatibility with multiple environments that will easily meet the diverse needs of today's ever-changing workplace."

Fast color and cost-effective black-and white output, industry-leading warm-up time and first copy time are just a few of the features that make these devices stand out and showcase how end-users can count on Konica Minolta for all of their digital imaging needs. Furthermore, these devices are designed to protect the environment with Konica Minolta's exclusive Simitri® HD color polymerized toner, Energy Star compliancy, low operating noise, low emissions, lower temperature fusing for less power consumption, easily recyclable toner bottles/cartridges and plastic parts. In addition, for total flexibility, users can leverage BluetoothTM wireless printing, a standard-front panel USB connector for conveniently saving files to and printing from a USB thumb drive, USB memory printing with document preview, and the ability to import/export files via USB memory to and from individual user boxes.

"These next-generation MFPs will offer customers seamless connectivity by supporting a variety of networking needs with high performance, image quality and reliability as well as low TCO," said Keith Kmetz, IDC Vice President, Hardcopy Peripherals Solutions and Services programs. "We anticipate customers will want to leverage the bizhub C452, C360, C280 or C220 for the same quality and cost-effectiveness of a monochrome device coupled with the ability to leverage color when it's needed."

The user profile for the new bizhub color MFPs includes a diverse target list. For example, a management team interested in an innovative product as the catalyst for increased office productivity and creativity, or organizations looking to maintain a sophisticated look and feel in their office will enjoy having one of the new MFPs in their workplace.

Pricing and Availability
The newest color bizhub MFPs are available now through Konica Minolta's North American direct sales and authorized dealer sales channels. The manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) for the bizhub C452 is $21,858; the bizhub C360 is $13,613; the bizhub C280 is $10,315; and the bizhub C220 is $9,165.
quote:
The Aficio Pro C550EX and Pro C700EX seem more like short term solutions, since they are basically the C6000/c7500 with an added standard LCT and Fiery server. However, they still add two more color light production systems to Ricoh's lineup.

Does anyone see these replacing or beating Xerox/Konica/Canon systems?


I have one of these in the P4P market, after 4 months all seems well and customer is satisfied with media offereing and quality. The one thing that has changed for this unit, since its the same engine as the MPC6000 and MPC7000 is that default from the factory is 11x17 single click and lower consumable costs.

Making an inroad will depend on how dealers will position this unit, dealers more than ever can now be competitive with single click 11x17, and if you're going to play in the P4P you have to have single click 11x17. However, manufacturers are buying p4p business at an alrming rate, willing to sell for thousands under best dealer price along with very low cpc's.

Who will make the inroads with Ricoh Pro Series? Ricoh Business Systems and Ikon, maybe a small spattering of dealers.

Personally I find the machine very acceptable for p4p, they all have their faults and time will tell after 24-30 months in the field.
quote:
Sharp went another direction with its A4 MFPs and positioned its Frontier line as a competitor against both A3 Copiers and A4 Printers – offers major HW discounts from A3 copiers. Not sure if you noticed, but the Frontier C311/C401's shipments were far higher in Q1 than in Q2. Not sure if this is due to initial "deliveries" to dealers in Q1, while Q2 was actually from sales and orders from dealers to restock inventories.

Does anyone see these systems beating out A3 color MFPs or gaining overall market share from Seg. 3 A3 color MFPs?


I havn't seen one placement of the frontier in my territory yet. But that doesn't mean they aren't out there.

I see the whole copier industry making a shift to A$ devices in the next 24 months or less, they have too.

Price is the driving factor, I've heard it all about A4's, such as "A4's can't hold up to heavy volume", oh yea then why do I see laser printers with hundreds of thousands of prints on them and they weigh under 100lbs? Heck, I just came from an account that has 180K on a Ricoh MP161SPF, and they did it all in a little over a year. Rumor has it Ricoh will be launching thier own A4 in a few months and as stated in a previous post here Sharp will intro a 62ppm and 70ppm A4. When an if the economy gets betterm buyers are still going to be shell shocked and will go after the A4's in droves! My advise hook up with Sharp, Sammy or Muratec and protect your base and consumables with these units.

While I don't agree with Sharp's marketing of the frontier to two channels, I doi understand that it's do or die for them and they need to make a dent in the market ASAP!

I have at least 10 A4's in the field that have replaced A3's and when it comes right down to it, if the solutions fits for them, then I'm selling the A3 over the A4 while I still have the advantage.
I would agree Art.

However, Sharp may have been too bullish regarding how the Frontier line would take off.

Back in May Sharp canceled five of the Frontier line's 18 models due to market conditions. Sharp no longer plans to launch DX or MX versions of a planned 50-ppm monochrome MFP and also canceled 31-ppm and 40-ppm color workgroup printers.

I'm sure the economy didn't help, but it will be interesting to see how A4 MFPs fare in the 45ppm+ speed bands...
I'm with Art. I think the A4 systems are in the market to stay and soon everyone will have them. Samsung will also have A3 systems within the next 18 months to be able to offer them with the A4's on bids and tenders. We shouldn't forget old HP when we have this discussion...they still collect more clicks in NA than any other manufacturer and they are seriously getting into the managed print business. It seems to me it is going to come down to who is going to gaurantee the client the toner on the paper at the most efficient price, with the right match of features...clients won't care about the actual brand as much as in the past. We are finding that clients take our recommendation and will move with brands if we ensure WE will stand behind them...that opens our offers to be a best of breed solution even if it means mixing brands in some instances (we try to avoid this but it happens).
quote:
Originally posted by lep524:
clients won't care about the actual brand as much as in the past. We are finding that clients take our recommendation and will move with brands if we ensure WE will stand behind them.


I think this is the big change over the last 15-20 years. If you think back, there was a time that you could buy an "off-brand" (not Xerox, Canon or Ricoh) and be really disappointed. They just wouldn't do the job.

That's not true anymore, at least for level of machine 90% of office users need.

Sure, we may beat the other players on some specific uncommon features, but if they just need a MFP to copy/scan/print, you'd be hard pressed to find one that couldn't accomplish that.

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