One of the hottest selling points in office printing was colour, Czubak said. IDC saw colour printer take-up grow by 50 per cent last year. Resellers could continue to fuel this momentum, she said.
"Help an organisation understand that colour makes a difference," Czubak said. "Prices are down and it's now affordable to do colour in-house for brochures and pamphlets."
Colour laser MFDs, which have hit the sub-$1000 mark, will experience the greatest growth spurt this year, she said. HP was the first vendor to introduce sub-$1000 models with the rollout of the 1015 and 1017 last October.
Oki Printing Solutions national sales manager, Graham Harman, said the entry-level colour laser was a hot market for dealers. Printing-on-demand, incorporating tasks such as business proposals, was changing the office landscape, he said.
"We're seeing a shift away from inkjets," Harman said. "Although initial inkjet costs are low, the high running costs are prohibitive for many.
"The improved speed, memory, paper quality and colour enhancements of lasers means offices are doing short-run printing in-house rather than outsourcing the tasks."
Colour laser MFDs, which are experiencing an industry-wide market increase of 20 per cent, are making colour a reality for many office environments. "We're most excited about this category," Harman said. "It shows colour is becoming more of a mainstream product.
"Now that colour printers in the laser space are affordable, partners can look at pushing a host of different applications. Think of it this way: the machine is a necessary evil to sell the consumables and the different print applications."
A chosen speciality
One area where partners could get traction was by catering to different types of media, Harman said. The Oki 5000 series had been designed to meet various media printing demands.
"Some prime examples are restaurants, in the form of banner printing; small nursery growers, which need to print pot tags complete with photos; and hospitals, which have a high demand for patient wrist bands," he said.
Kyocera Mita Australia printer product manager, Peter Medak, said partners could also ramp up efforts in the area of digital copiers, networkable laser printers, wide format copiers/printers and multifunction imaging solutions.
Businesses can now get high-performance gear for a fraction of the price from single-function machines up to MFDs, he said.
"There's been massive price erosion. Colour, in particular, is much more affordable," he said. But while colour is big, it's not as big as analyst projections, HP's Cameron said.
"Colour is more the way of the future in the office environment," he said.
Oki's Harman said another big opportunity for dealers to take advantage of was the fact that the printer buying decision was now in the hands of the IT person. This scenario made it easier to get a foot in the door and an understanding ear.
"There's a big opportunity for partners because the traditional buying lines are diluting," he said. "The purchasing decision is back to the IT guys for office printing. It is no longer the office manager or administrator, who typically buys the stationary and photocopier."