What are your top priorities for 2006?
SM: We are predominantly selling our entry-level machines and colour into retail. We do have an SMB/enterprise focus as well. And while we have a good channel base, we need to develop it further in 2006. We also want to further push into the SME space. Sales into retail make up about 60 per cent of sales, but growth in the SME market could see the channel account for half within 18 months.
Some channel implementations we have planned next year will see us bring on new partners, sell more product into the SME environment, which is the future for our mid-range product. Today we have 500 partners.
What will the addition of new distributors bring to the company?
SM: We realised we can't cover the whole country with a few distributors. The new distributors in specific areas such as Queensland and WA will help us get more channel depth and breadth. Both Zeus Technology and XIT Distribution have good track records. They are both focused on the SME environment and on retail.
What are some of the hot trends driving the printer market?
SM: We see laser printers really challenging the traditional inkjet market, which has been about the photo quality image. Konica Minolta has been at the forefront of developing direct photo printing with its laser printers. We have done that with our laser printers in the last 12 months. I'm not going to sit here and say we have a laser printer that can do what an inkjet can do - but we're getting close.
Colour is becoming more affordable, which helps to drive the technology into market segments where it never was before, particularly in retail. The SMB and SOHO categories are other prime markets.
The all-in-one machines will also drive printer sales. Laser printers are going down that path. We have monochrome versions of that, and will be launching a colour version in February. Our competitors - including HP and Epson - already have them, and that's an important change in the marketplace within the last 12 months.
What has the combined Konica Minolta entity, introduced two years ago, brought to the company's overall printer business?
SM: It has given us a company identity worldwide and helped us get closer to the imaging division and copier divisions. When we were Minolta QMS, there was this ongoing struggle about brand identity. With the name change of Konica Minolta, it has given us the identity that we have needed in the printing division particularly around imaging.