Suffixes Suggest Stiff Competition For HP

Lexmark International, Inc. is taking aim at market-share behemoth Hewlett Packard Co. with its introduction of six new printers to its Optra M and T lines.

While the addition of twin paper drawer-equipped printers to its existing lines, released last September and boosted in May, may seem minor, the company admitted the move is primarily a tactic for it to attack customers of specific HP printers.

“The area that we’re really targeting with this is the open channel,” said Andrew Kiss, product manager in the business products division with Lexmark Canada in Richmond Hill, Ont. “Our large-account sales force was always very good at explaining the value statement to our customers. But (in) the open channel-where there is perhaps an unassisted sale-this new naming convention basically allows (customers) to compare apples to apples in a much more straightforward fashion.”

For instance, the new lower-end 12ppm (page per minute) Optra M614tn (twin-drawer/networked) is geared to compete against HP’s 10ppm 2100tn, Kiss said.

Similarly, Lexmark’s new 17ppm Optra M412t and Optra M412tn printers appear designed to compete directly against HP’s 17ppm 4050t and 4050tn printers.

In all cases, Lexmark’s printers are priced slightly below HP’s comparable printers, though HP’s standard memory is usually higher.

HP is by far the printer market-share leader in Canada, with about 65 per cent of the country’s customers, according to printer analyst John Stanisic of IDC Canada in Toronto. He said Lexmark trails in second place with a bit more than 20 per cent.

A variety of companies make up the rest of the market, and it’s those competitors that Stanisic said Lexmark may be forgetting as it tries to topple HP.

Though Lexmark’s 12ppm printers may be slightly cheaper than HP’s, Stanisic said it is definitely not a leader in its category.

“Looking at other 12ppm printers, Okidata has one that’s cheaper, Samsung’s out there with a cheaper networked 12ppm printer as well. Xerox is in there too,” Stanisic noted. “With their 17ppm printers, I think they’re actually in a better position in the market place in terms of price.”

On top of the new 12ppm and 17ppm printer offerings, Lexmark has also released three new additions to its more robust Optra T line. The 15ppm Optra T610tn is priced slightly below its HP competition, the 16ppm HP5000gn. As well, the 25ppm Optra T614t and Optra T614tn look designed to compete head-to-head with HP’s 8000 and 8000dn printers.

All of Lexmark’s new printers sell in the range of $1,500 to $2,500 and are available immediately. Kiss said they are designed for the small- to medium-sized workgroups.

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