Following on from its success in the inkjet market, Epson will make a foray into the crowded colour laser market later this year, initially with only one product in the line-up. Already launched in Japan, officials have confirmed the A3 600 DPI EPL-C8000 will be released in Australia next month and will be pitted against Hewlett-Packard A3 lasers in the professional colour market. Other colour lasers are being planned.
It is new territory for Epson but the company sees it as a necessary strategic move. "Epson is very strong in the consumer market but it is difficult to make a profit because of decreasing prices," said Toru Oguchi, Seiko Epson Japan divisional senior general manager. "We want to profit from the office/professional market."
Some difficulties are seen in establishing a reseller channel for the new lasers, but Epson Australia marketing director Mike Pleasants has set a 15 per cent market share target in Australasia within 18 months. "We can do better in colour lasers than we have done in black and white," he said.
Pleasants acknowledged that Epson would be struggling to sell the laser through current distribution/reseller channels. "We will need to have a different channel and a channel program. Although part of the equation will include existing resellers currently offering Epson's high-end inkjets," he said.
Epson will develop other lasers to follow this new model but for unexplained reasons will need to do a deal with another engine manufacturer. Oguchi said Epson has not released its own laser engines, despite various attempts at developing them, because of patent difficulties.