It was CE (consumer electronics) week last week in New York City – an annual event that highlights the latest and greatest trends in consumer electronics, and some of the trends that will shape the camera and printing markets were on display from several vendors at the ShowStoppers event that was part of the week’s activities.
Last March, UBM Tech expanded the virtual reality (VR) presence at its annual Game Developers Conference (GDC). The increased focus on VR turned out to be a trial run for the company. Following attendance and industry feedback, UBM Tech has decided to branch VR off into its own, dedicated conference. The first standalone Virtual Reality Developers Conference (VRDC) has been announced for later this year.
Epson Group and Epson Italia S.p.A. announced that they agreed with the Robustelli family to acquire 100% of the capital of Fratelli Robustelli S.r.l. (“Robustelli”). This agreement aims to help Epson and Robustelli gain share in the fast-growing digital textile printing market.
Robustelli was one of the early innovators that used Epson’s printhead technology to develop the Monna Lisa product line. These products are considered the standard for high-quality digital textile printing. Located in Como, Italy, Robustelli had 25 employees and an annual turnover of over €12 million in 2015. The company’s heritage is in the textile machinery industry, developing, manufacturing, and selling Monna Lisa inkjet textile printers. Epson will deploy its worldwide sales and service network to sell Robustelli’s high-end printing systems in more countries and regions around the world, expanding its current footprint and reaching emerging digital markets.
OpenText announced yesterday that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Customer Communications Management (CCM) assets from HP Inc for USD $315M following an earlier acquisition of HP Inc’s customer engagement software assets for USD $170M (read InfoTrends’ blog on this here). The transaction is expected to be finalized by early 2017 and is subject to regulatory approvals and closing conditions.
Included in the sale this time is HP Exstream, HP Output Management, HP TeleForm and HP LiquidOffice for CCM, process automation, and document delivery solutions. Additionally, OpenText and HP Inc also announced that they will look into opportunities to work together to continue to expand their software solutions to benefit customers of both companies while moving forward with this transaction.
According to the announcement, OpenText expects to generate between USD $110M and USD $125M of annualized revenues, which means they are seeking a 2.5 to 3 year return on investment.
I’d already been briefed on a lot of drupa 2016 news before I left home so I wasn’t really expecting much to surprise me when I arrived in Germany. I was wrong. I’ll name four announcements or technology demonstrations that truly surprised me. I’d argue that each of these was strategically designed to make a simple statement to the effect of: “Hey everybody, we can do this.” These types of developments are what make a mega-show like drupa so special.
These are the items that caught me off guard: Read more »
At this year’s Electronic Arts Expo (E3), which took place in Los Angeles, California from June 12 to 16, virtual reality (VR) dominated the headlines. It can often be said that a technology is only as good as its applications. This year’s E3 was marked by the entry of major video game companies into the VR arena. Those waiting to see where the killer apps for VR would come from might have finally gotten their answers.
After digesting a week of meetings at drupa 2016 (May 31st to June 10th, Düsseldorf, Germany) along with plenty of good German food and beer, the InfoTrends analyst team believes the show can be characterized by five major themes:
Inkjet 3.0 –After important advances in production inkjet printing at drupa 2008 and 2012, this drupa can be considered “inkjet drupa 3.0” because of new and improved print heads, higher quality levels, wide printhead arrays, improved performance on a range of substrates, and expansion across a range of document, packaging, and decorative applications. These developments have brought digital printing into the mainstream. All of the leading offset press manufacturers are now committed to a digital print strategy, and though for some there is an important component that is based on electrophotography, it is the high productivity levels of inkjet that have convinced them that there is a place for digital print in production environments.
Digital printing of packaging – Though digital printing of packaging is certainly being influenced by inkjet, the major theme in this area is process automation. Digital printing, digital embellishment, and digital die-cutting were seen integrated across many production lines for labels, folding cartons, corrugated packaging, and even some direct-to-shape applications. Despite its commercial print heritage, drupa is morphing into a show with a significant package printing component. Meeting the needs of different segments of the packaging market is a challenge that requires effective software, workflow, and finishing if the true advantages of digital print for the entire supply chain are to be gained. It’s not clear today that digital printing system vendors have fully grasped the magnitude of this.
B1 digital – Many commercial printers have an almost emotional attachment to the B1-format press platform that has served them so well for offset printing. The new generation of B1-format digital printing devices appeals to them because they can see how they would fit easily into their production lines with minimal disruption (despite the fact that smaller digital devices might be just as efficient and/or cost effective). drupa 2016 saw the arrival of larger format digital cut-sheet color printing systems as well as off-line systems for special effects such as spot gloss, dimensional effects, and metallic foils. The progress in B1 sheet-fed design is facilitated by wider inkjet arrays that benefit from the latest advances in inkjet head technology. The challenge for any of these larger format digital printing devices is to meet the production requirements for quality, consistency, substrate support, and color registration while performing at high speed. Also important is integration of finishing technologies that leverage the benefits of digital print. Therefore laser cutting and creasing, particularly for folding carton applications, is also advancing, and for some of these devices the focus is on a B1 sheet size. For the off-line digital devices used for special effects, the B1 sheet size opens up sizeable opportunities because these systems are capable of supporting conventional presses as well as digital printers.
Special effects – Offset print processes have typically excelled at special effects beyond process color such as spot gloss, flood coats, foils, and corporate color matching. This kind of embellishment is now accelerating for digital print. Electrophotographic devices are using effects like printed metallic, dimensional, clear gloss, spot colors, fluorescent, security and other embellishments to differentiate the printed products and provide added value. Inkjet, particularly with ultraviolet (UV) curing inks, is extending this with some eye-popping results that leverage dimensional clear and metallic foil. The use of hybrid configurations, including those that leverage electrophotography and inkjet together, will have compelling applications in commercial and packaging markets. Many of the off-line special effect solutions, as noted above, are able to support larger format conventional sheet sizes, which opens their market impact significantly.
Industry 4.0 – For many years, system providers have talked about how production data can be used to drive operational excellence and even facilitate predictive service calls. Cloud-enabled production data tracking is now making this type of data-driven production a reality, not only for commercial and packaging applications, but for decorative and industrial ones as well. Today these tend to focus on a single vendor platform (rather than a true heterogeneous ecosystem). Despite these limitations there are still many benefits, such as performance benchmarking across peers with similar equipment. This also elevates the importance of automated workflows that make it easy for production managers to assess and react to their production site(s) based on real-time data. Taking this even further, InfoTrends expects to see semi-autonomous print production and robotic automation culminate in what has been described as “Industry 4.0,” in other words the foundation of a fourth industrial revolution that is based upon automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies, similar as what has happened in the car industry.
At the Computex 2016 trade show, recently held in Taipei, Taiwan, Microsoft unveiled ambitious new goals for its Windows Holographic operating system (OS). Windows Holographic will no longer be confined to the Microsoft Hololens. Instead, it will usher in “mixed reality,” which is defined as the combination of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Microsoft will accomplish this by opening Windows Holographic to the emerging VR market, allowing the OS to run on devices like the HTC Vive. This move will also allow a multitude of third-party developers to create apps for Windows Holographic. This announcement translates into a massive expansion for the developing Microsoft platform.
In a world where consumers are inundated by online requests and e-mail messages, printed communications really cut through the clutter and attract attention. Although some might think that tried-and-true marketing methods like direct mail and catalogs primarily appeal to Baby Boomers, InfoTrends’ research shows that even Millennials are responsive to these communications.
Following the spring hardware updates, today HP announced a range of solutions and enhancements to their mobile printing and print analytics solutions strategies for business. HP is addressing IT needs and end user expectations with these new solutions that attend to security challenges, cost containment, deployment issues, and device lifecycle management that IT struggles with, while also addressing end user wants such as flexibility and device diversity. Read more »