The growing colour market is attracting an increasing number of players, but Canon believes the running cost of its new N-series of bubble jet printers will make a compelling argument for businesses looking to jump into the colour pool.
The printers are designed to bridge the gap between quality colour printing and cost and Canon is looking to the channel to help sell the product to users who want laser-like colour printing at an affordable price.
"The business inkjets that are out there now are fundamentally just grown-up versions of desktop inkjets," said Glenn Stubbs, senior product manager with Canon's consumer imaging products group. "We're offering a product that's appealing to the monochrome laser user who is looking for a bit of colour."
IDC figures show last year's colour printer market grew 19 per cent in Australia and projections put this year's growth at 13 per cent. IDC's study identified total cost of ownership (TCO) as the number one factor for customers when buying colour printers.
Canon believes the lower cost of its bubble jet technology is what will differentiate the N-series in the market.
"Colour laser [technology] is quite hard to build down to a price point and we didn't want to cut corners," Stubbs said. "Laser printers are more complex - you have drums, toners, transfer belts, fuser oil rollers. It all adds to the ongoing cost."
The N1000 and N2000 printers can reach speeds of up to 20 pages per minute (ppm) in monochrome and 18ppm for colour graphics. The key to the new products' speed lies in the inkjet head technology. The N-series features a one-inch print head, which allows the printer to print up to five lines of text.
Printing costs for the new devices come in at around 3 cents per page for monochrome printing and 9 cents for colour, Canon said.
"That's roughly half the cost per page of so-called low-cost colour lasers," Stubbs said.
Although targeted at the business market, Canon will make the products available to resellers, although the channel will have to show expertise in larger IT environments in order to qualify.
"We will go through the resellers but [the products] won't be available to just everyone," Stubbs said. "We want to have selected resellers who have the network interface understanding."
Resellers will have to prove various level of expertise in order to qualify. "It's not a rigorous process, it is more of a checklist," he said. "We want to know they have the support staff and the expertise."
Canon is looking to appoint between 25 and 35 resellers Australia-wide to cover both regional and metropolitan areas. Support services for the products will be undertaken by Canon engineers.
What businesses want in a printer
* Robust, flexible paper handling
* Economical operation
* Remote management