HP extends further into copier market

HP is expanding its portfolio of copiers targeted at the business work group market.

HP has extended its reach further into rivals' markets for workplace copiers with a bunch of new products.

They include introduced upgraded versions of multifunction peripheral (MFP) devices targeted at enterprises that it first launched in 2004. The company's M4345MFP does printing, copying, faxing and other tasks at between 40 and 50 pages per minute. Its $US2600 starting price was about half the price of similar copiers already on the market, director of InfoTrends, a market research firm, Robert Palmer, said.

Besides refreshing that model and the model 4730 colour copier, HP is adding more models at higher and lower copying speeds and prices than the first generation models. HP also said all its multifunction printers would feature a common user interface that would make it easier for people in large enterprises to easily operate different models.

Executive vice-president of HP's Imaging and Printing Group, Vyomesh Joshi, said HP's share had grown to 19 per cent in just two years in the market for copiers that ran at between 40 and 50 pages per minute.

HP's new copiers have forced competitors to respond, Palmer said. "A number of them have introduced their own products very similar to HP's. They have said they understand that a faster, lower-priced device does have an opportunity to come in here and disrupt things," Palmer said. Xerox, for instance, introduced a model 4140 copier in response to the HP 4345 model, he said.

HP has sold copiers for a number of years, but mostly for the home office or small business environment, Palmer said. The 4345 and the other models just announced were targeted at the workgroup market, an office copier that was shared by a number of co-workers.

HP also unveiled, this week, new ink-based printing technology for businesses called HP Edgeline. The printerheads span the width of an entire page so only the paper moves, not the printheads. This meansfaster speeds but also fewer moving parts.

The company said it planned to build Edgeline into printers targeted at the industrial printing and high-volume office printing markets.

It also is hiring more highly skilled sales consultants to advice enterprises about printing infrastructure management, in a similar way in which HP provides advice about computers, servers and storage.

One client, University Hospitals in Ohio, brought HP in to assess printing technology at its 150 locations, including hospitals and various clinics. University Hospitals is in the process of rolling out a system of 1400 centrally managed devices on its printer network.

The hospital's printer infrastructure was in disarray before the changeover, deputy chief information officer, Michael Kelly, said.

"It's very difficult to determine what your ROI [return on investment] is when you can't determine what your costs were to begin with," he said.

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