Why Hasn’t Production Color Digital Print Been More Successful in Japan?

Jim Hamilton
 Jul 31, 2009

Alex Sumarta and I were in Tokyo recently for the On Demand Japan Conference. One of the questions that we frequently get is “Why hasn’t production color digital print been more successful in Japan?” No one knows the answer for sure, but as we listened to the analysts from our Japanese office talk about the market, some points became clear:

  • Japanese printers pride themselves in providing high levels of quality
  • Print service providers feel that quality and consistency is what differentiates them
  • The poor quality and lack of consistency of some of the earliest digital color print products has given digital a bad reputation that it is only now beginning to shed

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eCopy is managing paper work with PaperWorks

Anne Valaitis
 Jul 23, 2009

eCopy recently announced the availability of its PaperWorks product (started shipping Monday with new ShareScan orders). This new re-brand of eCopy Desktop marks a next step for eCopy in breaking free of some its hardware centric roots. The Paperworks platform performs in much the same fashion as its predecessor eCopy Desktop. During an InfoTrends presentation and demonstration of the product, we were pleased to see the continued commitment to the open development platform nature of eCopy. eCopy has positioned itself as architecture to enhance the seamless integration between systems, both hardware and software.  PaperWorks is a desktop document imaging software designed to scan, merge, modify and connect documents using workflow technology.  With Paperworks, customers and vendors are encouraged to explore the SDK, a kit meant to deliver a value add when attempting to closely integrate this desktop application with other back-end systems. The SDK and membership are currently free, unless you are interested in support. Standard with the product are connectors for Sharepoint, Autonomy, EMC’s Documentum, and OpenText’s eDocs.

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Kodak Announces Prosper Color XL Press

Jim Hamilton
 Jul 21, 2009

Kodak invited about twenty analysts and press from around the world to Dayton, Ohio to brief them on a range of production digital print news, but specifically to focus on new inkjet developments including its Stream technology, now branded as Prosper. The two-day event included technology demonstrations and customer testimonials.

Kodak kicked off the first day with a review of the NexPress SE platform toner developments and a customer presentation by Eric Webber of Cohber Press, a NexPress customer who has used the new Intelligent Calibration System (ICS). The day continued with additional information on existing inkjet solutions and highlighted the launch of the Versamark VL6000. Customer testimonials from Tom Fenske of Fenske Media and Giorgio Albertini of Rotomail were also part of the day. Darrin Wilen of Wilen Media spoke on day two about Wilen’s use of the Prosper S10 Imprinting System.

While all of this was interesting and educational, the big news came on the second day with the introduction of the Prosper Color XL Press. With a duty cycle of 120 million A4/letter impressions per month, the Prosper Color XL Press is capable of speeds of 650 feet per minute (fpm) at a print width of 24.5 inches. (The web will be 25.5 inches.) Kodak says that the product will be available in the first half of 2010. Kodak would not identify sales targets for the Prosper system but it is counting on significant growth. It said that it expected the technology to be printing a trillion pages by 2015. Read more »

EFI bests L&P in court

Other Posts
 Jul 16, 2009

Today EFI issued a press release http://www.ir.efi.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=117454&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1308513&highlight= about its win in court over Leggett & Platt.  Leggett & Platt had alleged that EFI-VUTEk was in violation of U.S. patent number 7,290,874, applied for in 2004 and  awarded in 2007. EFI won the case after the court ruled that what Leggett & Platt had patented was obvious. EFI noted that this is the third time it has beaten Leggett & Platt over this patent in court.

While I am no patent expert, after reviewing the patent here (http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=7,290,874.PN.&OS=PN/7,290,874&RS=PN/7,290,874) it appears that Leggett & Platt was able to get a patent on a technology that was well established by the time the patent was applied for in 2004, and very well established by the time it was awarded in 2007.

It should also be noted that the division of Leggett & Platt that was likely pursuing this lawsuit, known as L&P Digital Technologies, was sold by Leggett & Platt in 2008 to WIFAG group of Switzerland, and is now known as WP Digital. The company still sells high-end wide format UV-curable inkjet printers under the Virtu brand. WIFAG is a manufacturer of newspaper presses, package decoration equipment and graphic arts supplies. As such, WIFAG/WP Digital will continue to be an active competitor, especially in Europe, to the leading manufacturers like HP-Scitex, EFI, and Sericol, that are all targeting the commercial and screen print market with high-end wide format UV-curable inkjet printers.

HP Bets on Ben Stein (and Managed Print Services)

Other Posts
 Jul 13, 2009

HP made several Managed Print Services (MPS) announcements this morning, including a Printing Payback Guarantee — official site here. The announcement took place live from a former U.S. Mint in San Francisco and was moderated by comedian and economist Ben Stein.

When you peel back the layers, HP is effectively guaranteeing that they’ll save you what they say they’ll save you (through MPS assessments). Barring large shifts in volume or print needs, MPS is generally billed as a flat monthly rate or cost-per-click; contracted over 3-5 years; and laden with pretty hefty Service Level Agreement (SLA) language. That said, the onus is often on a provider to deliver on the cost-containment promises of their proposal anyway.

Outside the marketing-speak, then, is the more important point — HP assessments will reveal significant cost saving opportunities, and HP is committed to delivering on them. InfoTrends’ studies show average cost-savings of 20%-25% across several studies, and HP’s guarantee validates these benefits. Particularly in context of the recession — a recurring theme throughout HP’s Webcast — organizations will look to these managed services benefits.

Under-discussed was the HP PagePlan program, which actually seems to be the more novel announcement. For customers “not yet ready for MPS,” PagePlan offers services, supplies, and support for HP devices. Bundled into these deals are also solutions for secure printing and job accounting, two of the most adjacent solutions to printing and print management.

The Elusive Software Pull-Through?

Other Posts
 Jul 1, 2009

It started when I saw the open-source model gain momentum in the content management space a la Alfresco, Drupal, Joomla, Nuxeo, and several others. The no-license model clearly had potential, especially given the associated services and support revenue streams we were seeing. In fact, my own (commercial) ECM market numbers indicated that license revenues were typically less than 1/3 of large deals anyway. Fast-forward.

Early this month, on an earnings call with HP, our hosts implicated that they’re playing in a “free license” market. Their competition was giving away software, they claimed, to capture coveted services and support revenue streams across a contract. Once again, I was intrigued but not altogether shocked — this was, after all, a buyer’s economy for technology solutions, and shrinking license margins were no surprise. Fast-forward once again.

EMC recently announced that they were giving away developer’s editions of Documentum. Although it will likely improve their overall revenue ‘ecosystem,’ it’s certainly a new move for a platform that otherwise costs developers plenty to work with in the past. Just another drop in the bucket, though.

Enter FatWire and their PR a few week ago– Read more »

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