The iPad and the saviour of the publishing industry

Ralf Schlozer
 Jan 29, 2010

Steve Jobs can be sure of at least one success and that is the instant domination of all blogs around the world with one product launch. There have been many things stipulated, but I would like to get back on the influence the iPad could have on the publishing industry. There are remarks abound, about the great opportunity the iPad poses to publishers. But it should be spelled out explicitly: Steve Jobs is not interested in saving the publishing industry. He wants to sell iGadgets including software and everything around it. What will publishers gain?

Let’s have a look at the numbers: Assuming a consumer buys an iPad for publishing products it means a one-off fee of $500 and then every month an additional $30 (the web access charge) less to spend on publishing products. This money goes into the pockets of Apple and the network provider. Of course a consumer will expect a huge discount in return for the publishing content he reads on the iPad. That is the money the publisher is not getting. Sure, the publisher is saving money by producing e-content. Printing is only a small fraction though, about a seventh of the retail price. The biggest cost factor though is the retail channel which typically receives up to 50% of retail price. However this is the portion Amazon or iBooks are vying for and what they are already charging. In the end there will not be a lot of margin left after giving consumers the discounts they expect.

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EFI Fiery VUE: Re-inventing the Print Driver?

Other Posts
 Jan 28, 2010

This Tuesday, EFI announced the release of its latest software creation, called Fiery VUE. Fiery VUE is geared toward the office environment, delivered as an add-on to the Microsoft Office Suite. Its main purpose is to make the composition, printing, and finishing of office documents more user-friendly, specifically to business users that own MFPs with Fiery controllers. Users install the add-on, open a document, find the tab for Fiery VUE on any Microsoft Office application “ribbon”, and then load the VUE application where users have access to a number of features. Within Fiery VUE, users can view a 3D preview of how the finished document, re-arrange pages, insert blank pages, insert additional documents of multiple file types, choose various types of finishing options, use various imposition settings, and save templates for re-use. All of these features are under the guise of an interface design that provides an easy-to-use experience when preparing and printing documents.

EFI’s main goal, it seems, is to add value for MFP owners that have a Fiery controller or front-end, and help users utilize the full range of features available in their MFP devices. It is also aiming to get users to switch from using their print drivers for preparing and sending jobs to a printer to using VUE. According to Fiery VUE’s website, MFPs from Canon, Konica Minolta, Ricoh, Toshiba, and Xerox can currently support connectivity to Fiery VUE, which is available for free download on that same website.

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OKI Data’s Low-Priced Cut-Sheet and Roll-Fed Color Solutions

Jim Hamilton
 Jan 27, 2010

There’s a surprising new entrant in the color market. Today OKI Data Americas announced five toner-based LED products in a new OKI Printing Solutions series called proColor. At prices ranging from around $3,000 to $36,000 and speeds in the 30 ppm range, the proColor series includes an envelope printer and a roll-fed printer:

  • pro810 An entry-level cut-sheet color printer series with color speed of 30 ppm and a black & white speed of 32 ppm and a list price of $3,248. The product offers 1,200 by 600 dpi resolution and a maximum format of 11.6″ by 52″.
  • pro910 A cut-sheet color printer with 31 ppm color/36 ppm black & white speed and a list price of $5,960. The product offers 1,200 by 600 dpi resolution and a maximum format of 12.9″ by 47.24″.
  • pro930 A cut-sheet color printer with 31 ppm color/36 ppm black & white speed and an embedded Fiery controller at a list price of $10,230. The product offers 1,200 by 1,200 dpi resolution and a maximum format of 12.9″ by 47.24″.
  • pro900DP A cut-sheet color document and envelope printer with 36 ppm color/40 ppm black & white speed and an embedded Fiery controller at a list price of $26,500. The product offers 1,200 by 1,200 dpi resolution and a maximum format of 12.9″ by 47.24″.
  • pro510DW A roll-fed color label printer that can also be run in cut-sheet mode for other applications, the device has a 12.9″ web width and a list price of $36,200.

The pro810, pro910, and pro930 will be available in February. The pro900DP and pro510DW will be available in March. All of the products are expected to be on display at Graphics of the Americas (Miami Beach, Florida, February 25-27). OKI Data highlights the products’ small footprint, low acquisition cost, and low running cost, but some open questions remain.

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Open Text Analyst Event

Anne Valaitis
 Jan 18, 2010

I had the opportunity to attend the Open Text Analyst Event in Boston on January 13th. This annual event provides Open Text the opportunity to share their current marketing and product strategy plans.  The event format seemed to follow others I have attended as well as past Open Text events (there were no show stoppers or game changing announcements this time around). Open Text provided information to the hungry analysts by way of plenty of powerpoint to chew on in the morning session.  The sound of laptops and tablets tapping away (I chose old school pen and composition notebook) was the background hum to each presenter.  The executive team, some of which are relatively new to Open Text, each presented their area of expertise and built upon the last digging slightly deeper as we went along . In an effort to change the tone (and maybe to push back the post luncheon yawns),  the afternoon provided a “speed-dating” (we all joked about it) atmosphere, sitting with select members of the executive team for short bursts of time.

If you don’t know who Open Text is, they are a multi-national company that manages content for hundreds of brands (BMW, Sony, Citibank, Pfizer and Coca Cola just to name a few) and states more than 100 million users in over 50,000 deployments worldwide. So if you don’t know Open Text, you certainly know the companys whose content they support.  And there is no shortage of content, content that is growing exponentially every day, in fact there is an explosion of content from email, text, social media, traditional business applications, newspapers, video, music and books.

Open Text is essentially an ECM vendor and over the years has amassed many different brands including: Vignette, Hummingbird, LiveLink and Captaris to bolster its position and portfolio. Acquiring many discrete businesses has been no small endeavor and in fact has taken time to rationalize under one “Suite” or umbrella offering. Open Text demonstrated how the suite will serve all layers of the enterprise experience from the user level to process level integration and to the base library level. It remains to be seen just how successful this unified message will carry, Open Text themselves admits a lower than preferred penetration into existing customers

And how is Open Text innovating for the future…by learning to play the game Halo…no seriously, Tom Jenkins, Open Text Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer, shared with us his newly acquired skill as a gamer, this Jenkins admits, provides him the ability to truly understand how this next generation consumes content digitally, and their expectation of the digital experience…it was probably fun too!

Expect Open Text to go deep this year…to the heart of the customer, the heart of their own business all with a focus on innovation and mobility.

The Personalised Newspaper – followed-up

Ralf Schlozer
 Jan 15, 2010

As mentioned before there are some more details worth to mention on the first personalised newspaper. Niiu is a joint venture by the InterTi GmbH, a start-up company founded by two German students, and the German print service provider Reprotechnik Gruppe. Pretty much everything for niiu is outsourced. Printing is done by the Reprotechnik Gruppe at their Berlin site. A Swiss software company, Previon AG, is providing the composition software. The paper is distributed by a separate logistics provider to ensure early delivery (only the trial copies are delivered by post and arrive around noon).

Currently Niiu is priced at €1.80 per issue or €1.20 for students and as niiu is logically not available at any kiosk, the makers have to rely on some sort of subscription model. Instead on a traditional subscription model niiu launched a pre-paid system with several different packages. At first the point model on the web-site seems a bit confusing, but it is essentially a pre-paid model for a set number of copies. It is designed to cater for a young and mobile readership which does not know today where they will be in 6 months time. The aim is to have around 5000 subscribers by the first 6 months.

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Xerox and On Demand Books Collaborate on Espresso Book Machine

Jim Hamilton
 Jan 14, 2010

You probably saw the news today that On Demand Books (http://www.ondemandbooks.com/), maker of the Espresso Book Machine has teamed up with Xerox on an on-demand book kiosk. The Espresso Book Machine (sometimes referred to as EBM) has been around for four or five years, but really in more of a beta state according to On Demand Books CEO Dane Neller. With this announcement, On Demand Books will sell the Espresso Book Machine connected to the print engine component of the 110-ppm Xerox 4112 monochrome copier/printer. The 4112 is used to print the monochrome book blocks while an internal color inkjet printer does the covers. The Espresso Book Machine can print and perfect bind books as small as 4.5” x 5.0” and as large as 8.25” x 10.5” (and any variation in between). The book block is printed on 8.5” x 11” sheets and is then united with the cover, perfect bound, and trimmed. The price for the Espresso Book Machine, including the 4112, the finishing capability, and related software is around $125,000.

Xerox 4112 in an Espresso Book Machine

Xerox 4112 in an Espresso Book Machine

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Now Is the Time to Reinvent Cut-Sheet Production Color Digital Print

Jim Hamilton
 Jan 13, 2010

This is a remarkable point in time to reinvent the cut-sheet production color digital printer. Why? Inkjet technologies provide a compelling opportunity to increase speed and format, offer additional flexibility through differentiation (4+ colors for MICR, gloss or matte coating, spot color, or other special effects), while lowering running cost. We’ve seen an inkling of this in A3 format with the RISO HC5500 and ComColor products, but I believe there is a significant opportunity for a larger format product. Read more »

The Personalised Newspaper is here

Ralf Schlozer
 Jan 12, 2010

On the 16th of November the first personalised newspaper went live in Berlin. Its name ‘niiu’ is also a reminder that we embark on something new here. Long have been the discussions on producing a personalised printed newspaper, but it took some youthful outsiders to the industry to take the charge. It is too early to judge a commercial success, but it is surely interesting to have a look at how the personalised newspaper is achieved.
There are several things a subscriber can personalise with niiu. First the subscriber can add some gimmicks to the first page, like giving the paper a self selected title and motto or add a personal picture. More useful is a weather forecast info box for a town you can select and a stock chart. For the different sections of the newspaper the subscriber can select editorial content from a set of newspapers. Moreover he can choose how many pages he wants from any paper, he can even choose content from several papers for the same section or skip sections altogether. The range of newspaper supplying editorial content rank from the yellow press (like Bild and BZ) to the more reputable papers like a leading German financial paper (Handelsblatt). The geographic spread covers local German papers from cities as Berlin to less well known places as Osnabrück and includes international papers such as the New York Times, Washington Times or the Komsomolskaya Pravda. For example a subscriber can choose the title page from the a leading national paper, add the local pages for Berlin and one page from the town his family lives in, combined with the economy section of a leading financial magazine, the New York times culture pages (for the next trip to the big apple) and the sports section from a more cheerful & colourful paper.

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What’s a Digital Press?

Jim Hamilton
 Jan 5, 2010

One of the more remarkable on-line discussions I have seen in recent memory is revolving around a very basic question on LinkedIn posed by Rick Ciordia, a Regional Sales Manager at MGI USA. Rick asks “What is the difference between a ‘digital press’ and a ‘copier’?” As of early Tuesday evening January 5th Rick’s question had prompted 68 comments. See for yourself. Most of it is on topic, but it ranges from discussions of duty cycle to reliability to liquid versus dry toner. I’m pleased that the topic generates so much interest.

It reminded me of what I wrote after Graph Expo 2006: 

“What’s a Digital Press? Visitors to the show floor may have noticed that everyone from the big players all the way down to Xitron with its new Prism called their digital color print offerings “presses.” These devices are all printers by any logical definition, but vendors like them to sound big, heavy, and productive, so they call them presses, even though traditional printing presses are handicapped by the inability to do anything other than printing the same image over and over again. Calling a production color printer a “press” ignores the inherent advantages of digital print–electronic collation, cost-effective runs of one, and variable data. When vendors call these devices “presses,” InfoTrends does what we do with any term whose intent is marketing rather than truth-telling: we call it by an accurate name, which in this case is production color digital printer.”

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Benjamin Franklin and the Future of Printing

Jim Hamilton
 Jan 3, 2010

It was my great pleasure last week to visit the Minneapolis History Center in St. Paul where among other fascinating exhibits is “Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World” (see the exhibit web site for more details). As I think about 2010 and the various possibilities that new technologies may bring, I was struck by something Franklin wrote in a May 1788 letter to the Reverend John Lathrop:

“…I have sometimes almost wish’d it had been my Destiny to be born two or three Centuries hence. For Inventions of Improvement are prolific, and beget more of their Kind. The present Progress is rapid. Many of great Importance, now unthought of, will before that Period be procur’d; and then I might not only enjoy their Advantages, but have my Curiosity satisfy’d in knowing what they are to be.”

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