The true cost of colour: The death of mono?

The true cost of colour: The death of mono?

Mono is dead. Yeah, right. Same as rock ‘n’ roll and photography are rotting six feet under. We’ve heard the soothsayers proclaim the death of mono in the printing space before, yet the format continues to defy the onslaught of colour. But with the price of colour continuing to drop, will it be able to keep repudiating the R.I.P. label? ARN asked the leading vendors their views on the colour versus mono printing debate. Here are their responses.


While colour is often touted as the way of the future, national group product manager printers, David Hampe, believes mono will never die.

"Colour will grow; I don't think it will overtake mono," he said. "I don't think that will ever happen.

"When colour inkjet printers came out the market changed almost overnight - within two years it had moved away from black and white to all colour. And to go and buy a black and white inkjet printer now, I don't think you'd find one, it'd be pretty hard."

Yet, laser printers have not followed the same evolutionary path as users are more aware of the costs involved.

"I think people generally were conscious of cost," Hampe said. "And they are saying 'the problem with my inkjet printer is I'm changing the cartridges all the time and it is costing me a fortune'.

"When they apply that to laser printers now they are going in with a bit more knowledge."

While vendors made colour printers that could produce mono prints for the same cost as a mono machine, the uptake of colour has not sky rocketed; a point the channel should be aware of.

"They need to be aware that customers are starting to look at running costs a lot more than they were," Hampe said. "They now ask how much the cartridge costs and how many pages they can get out of that cartridge and work out their true running costs."


Colour multifunction printers (MFPs) will knock mono for six in terms of centralised printing at the office, according to Kyocera product marketing manager, Mark Vella.

"I think there is some level where, certainly in multifunction devices, there is a true trend of businesses purchasing colour over mono," he said. "So their main central device is becoming a colour device." However, for single function printers the trend is not as pronounced.

"All businesses are looking at having a colour printing capability, be that an MFP or a laser printer device," Vella said. "But there is still demand for the mono printer around the office."

For Vella, the costs are too high to have colour all around the office, particularly with people printing emails and word documents that don't need colour.

"I think companies are wary of maintaining manageable colour costs and they generally would like to do that through centralised print areas," he said. However, Vella claimed SMBs will replace mono devices with colour.

"Certainly for SMBs, mono will shift out and colour will come in," he said. But the channel needs to be aware of the total cost of printing.

"I think the channel needs to be looking for businesses making the transition from mono to colour and give them a cost-effective solution," Vella said.

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