The copier market is dead; they just don

I took a briefing recently with OKI Data, a wellknown printer manufacturer, and they have started offering three new machinesaimed at the mid market that in my mind put a big bull’s eye on the copiervendors.

The MB700 Series are the first products ever madeby OKI Data for the mid-tier business market.

The copier vendors such as Toshiba, Canon, KonicaMinolta, Ricoh, Sharp and the largely forgettable HP Edgeline series have beenbanging their heads on the wall continuing to sell direct to customers withlong-term stranglehold contracts. The reason why these vendors continue to dobusiness is because customers have made printing and copying an extremely lowpriority in business. So the approach these vendors take is just to call upcustomers and ask them to renew the already horrible contract they signed fiveyears ago.

I firmly believe this market is eroding, and it’sbecause of managed print services. Right now you have a handful of resellerssuch as Laser Networks, Printers Plus, A+M and Ontario Printing that reallyknow how to sell, service and operate managed print services.

These pioneers in the channel understood a longtime ago that if customers put next to no effort or thought in their printingpurchasing then why should they overpay for machines that are already long inthe tooth?

For example, the OKI mid market MFP can do up to275,000 pages per month, which is way more than enough for any mid marketbusiness which, in Canada, means 100 to 500 employees. With managed printservices, the best part is that is you just pay for output.

These OKI machines start at $2,500 and I asked OKICanada GM Mario Pallotta if they were priced competitively with copiers; hesaid they were. But these machines are not intended to be sold outright.Through managed print services resellers usually offer the best MFPs on themarket to their customers and all they pay is for output.

In the U.S., several large resellers with goodmanaged services practices have been gobbling up managed print servicesresellers to enhance customer offerings. I believe that Canada is at least 18 months behind the U.S. in thistrend. Make no mistake, this trend is coming and it’s going to hit the copierdealers hard.

You have to look at it from a customer’s point ofyou: why would they pay more if they don’t have to. And the MFPs such as theMB700 can perform just as well, if not better, than the copiers. They come indesktop or floor models, something copiers don’t. They have a 9-inch colourtouch screen display, duplex printing, internal Ethernet card, wirelessconnectivity, colour scanning, ID card copy functionality, users can save andprint on USB sticks, and the toner yields can go up to 36,000 pages and itcomes.Copier features such as stapling are also on these newmachines.

One quick hit before I go. If you thought it wastough getting qualified IT sales and technical consultants now; well it's goingto get harder in 2011, according to Robert Half. Robert Half has a new surveythat found CIOs will be hiring IT staff in the first three months of the year.From last year it will be up by 12 per cent.

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