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Last gasps for printer manufacturers

14 Sep 12

For the first time in NZ the business colour laser printing category isn’t growing. In an age of online content, the printer manufacturers have been literally saved by businesses throughout NZ printing and copying more and more colour pages. The consumables needed for these colour prints are more profitable than a simple black print for the industry. For a long time the black printing numbers have been declining, but last quarter the colour space joined the decline with a 2.9% dip in NZ according to Infomart.

Most of us already know the simple idea that printer manufacturers generally lose money on selling the printing hardware, but make up for that with sales of printing consumables over time, especially the colour consumables.

The problem now is that accountants and business owners have got smart to how things work. They’ve had their IT people change each computer to default to black printing. Also more and more large organisations have got sick of piles of unclaimed paper at central printers and require a swipe card to collect prints. This combined with fierce competition is turning many 8-12c colour laser prints into 1c black prints.

A sanctuary for the industry had previously been paper supplies, but the same accountants and business owners are also turning the organisations printing defaults to double sided printing.

There is one bright spot for the print manufacturers and that is stealing business from the offset printing industry. This is occurring because the printers from brands like Ricoh, Fuji Xerox and Kyocera are becoming sophisticated enough that business cards, corporate flyers and other small runs no longer need big offset printing. While this opportunity isn’t going to single handedly save the digital printing manufacturers, it will buy them a few years of breathing space.

Where on earth will the printing manufacturers turn next?

Services says Mike Pollok, Managing Director of Ricoh NZ. He has a unique strategy to grow a business around document management, network management and over time build up its capacity in other areas of business IT service.

You can read our story about their recent initiative here.

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