Xerox cuts prices, rejigs printer lines

After years of being criticized for the high cost of its products, Xerox Corp. last month announced it has retooled its business strategy, launching 21 new or enhanced devices and re-categorizing its products into three lines.

“We learned that our Advanced Multifunction technology appealed strongly to one segment of the market, but was too complex and too expensive for a large number of our customers,” said Jim Miller, president of the Xerox Office Group, to a crowd of hundreds in New York City.

“Until today, we served about half of the market with higher-priced, fully-featured multifunction systems and services aimed at big business,” said Anne Mulcahy, chairman and CEO of Xerox.

“Now we’re dramatically expanding our line to address the other half of the market, offering new choices, new value and new alternatives to businesses of every size.”

For companies that need simplicity in the office, Xerox is offering its CopyCentre line. Consisting of standalone digital copiers that range in speed from 16 to 90 pages per minute (ppm), they start at US$2,299, and include two new products. Joining nine monochrome siblings are the CopyCentres C32 Color which copies at 32 ppm black and white or 16 ppm colour and the CopyCentre C40 Color which copies at 40 ppm black and white or 22ppm colour.

The WorkCentre family consists of multifunction devices for copying, printing, scanning, faxing and e-mailing and prices start at US$899. Product speed ranges from 16 to 55 ppm. The WorkCentre M15 is one of the two new products debuting in this range of products, and it is designed for customers making their first move to multifunction devices, Xerox says. The WorkCentre 15i has similar functionality but includes colour scanning and copying to the feature-set. These start at US$13,150.

The WorkCentre Pro clan comprises multifunction devices that print, copy, scan, fax, and e-mail, but they integrate with third-party solutions, and are ideal for networked offices. The two new members of this family, called the WorkCentres Pro 32 Color and Pro 40 Color, are colour-enabled.

EDS Corp. in Plano, Tex., recently underwent an Office Document Assessment (ODA) by Xerox and implemented 68 of the company’s multifunction devices, replacing 121 of its networked printers. Lonnie Gambrell, consistent office environment project manager for EDS, said Xerox’s products have an easy-to-use interface that is consistent across all models, and it’s easy to upgrade to new functions.

The company also implemented some standalone printers, and says users like the secure printing feature. Users can key in a four-digit code at the machine to kickstart a printing job containing sensitive information, lessening the need for many deskside printers.

Frank Albanese, research manager of printers at IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto, said Xerox’s strategy is an effort to increase market share in what is rapidly becoming a more competitive market.

“Think of this new product launch as a response to the market in the sense that it is becoming very competitive. Prices are falling across the board, customers are becoming more demanding,” Albanese said. “They had to relaunch [and] recreate their products to address the realities of the market, price being one of them.”

Albanese said in Canada, Xerox’s main competitors are Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP), and Lexmark International Inc. He said Xerox holds the number three spot in colour printing, and is in the top five in monochrome, but it has nowhere near the market share HP and Lexmark enjoy. Their success, Albanese said, is attributed to them offering the right price for the right feature sets.

However, Doug Lord, president of Xerox Canada in North York, Ont., said Xerox is well-positioned in the multifunction office solutions end of the market, and said April’s announcements will allow Xerox in Canada to become more competitive with cost-sensitive customers that don’t require a plethora of features.

Now, Xerox has reduced its prices and offers a wider variety of products, but Albanese said this isn’t a sure roadmap to success.

“Only time will tell if it’s going to work because ultimately it’s going to depend how they execute,” he said. “If they execute properly, they should see some success, but they still have quite a ways to go before they catch up with Lexmark and HP.”