The changing face of office printing

The changing face of office printing

In the workgroup category, Harman said the technology trend was to offer lean and mean machines in terms of productivity functionality. "User feedback still revolves around offering a smaller footprint," he said.

IDC's Ghai said vendors were rising to meet the demand for workgroup printers in the mid-market. Vendors that typically played on price, and aggressively targeted entry-level users, were now introducing mid-range workgroup gear in a bid to stay competitive and broaden the product portfolio.

Going green

"HP is big and mighty and very aggressive in the entry-level, so vendors will need to build their portfolios. It is a necessity for vendors," he said. A focus on the environment would give resellers something new to talk about, particularly in the government office arena, Fuji Xerox' Harman said. "While the general office and government can be quite close in terms of desired features, there are tighter requirements for environmental initiatives," he said.

In government, resellers can educate users on the use of solid ink, which reduces landfill waste and cuts down on costs. Harman said solid ink fills 2kg of landfill per 100,000 pages, compared to 71kg of landfill for the traditional laser-based product creates.

"It improves the environmental price per copy and general flexibility," he said. "We're working with our partners about solid ink and the messaging. It's a well guarded secret."

Unlike Harman, HP's Cameron said he saw quality issues with solid ink technology.

"When you take a weak technology, and give it an environmental spin, it all sounds good," Cameron said. "In some ways, environmentalism from the printer perspective, for some, is being used as a marketing spin."

Kyocera's Medak said there were many benefits of pitching a going green approach when it comes to printers.

"There's a real burden that business activities can place on the environment," he said. Lightening the load are printer technology advances like long life parts, chrome-free, lead-free materials, and biodegradable packaging (including the use of recyclable, non-toxic ink on the packaging and no foam and use of paper pallets).

Whether resellers beat the environmental drum or tout printer consolidation and specific feature sets, analysts agree the big area of opportunity for partners is in educating office users about what's out there, and the importance of finding the right mix of print hardware and software solutions.

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