Xerox Corp’s UK affiliate, Rank Xerox Ltd, which is spearheading the company’s move to selling printers through indirect channels, says the strategy helped it gain more than half of the UK market share in desktop colour laser printers last year. It claimed to have won a 55% share within six months of launching the 4900 […]
Xerox Corp’s UK affiliate, Rank Xerox Ltd, which is spearheading the company’s move to selling printers through indirect channels, says the strategy helped it gain more than half of the UK market share in desktop colour laser printers last year. It claimed to have won a 55% share within six months of launching the 4900 colour laser printer last summer (CI No 2,435). However its only other rival was QMS Inc’s ColorScript, and when Hewlett-Packard Co shipped its first colour laser printer in the autumn, the HP Color Laserjet, undercutting QMS’ and Rank Xerox’s prices (CI No 2,505), its share fell back to 28%. Although Hewlett-Packard’s product nearly halved the Xerox market share, Jason Cort, marketing manager for the company’s office document systems, said he had welcomed the printer’s arrival, believing that it would boost the market, but had been disappointed with his rival’s marketing strategy. It wasn’t as strong as people were expecting, and that’s held back growth of the market, he said. But the printer wars are finally upon us, he said, and Apple Computer Inc’s recent colour printer announcement (CI No 2,688) and planned launches by Lexmark International Inc and Tektronix Inc later in the year, would drive the market, but the real kick would be when people could offer printers for less than ú5,000. Rank Xerox has just cut the price of a 4900 to ú6,000 from ú7,500 000 and expects street prices to be as low as ú5,000. And the only way to achieve volume sales will be to use a selling strategy like the one it has adopted, averred Cort.
Rank Xerox intends to develop this channel and by the end of the year hopes to have recruited 150 companies to its Premier Dealer programme. To join, dealers will have to show they are committed to our products by pledging to hit sales targets, among other things. In return, Rank Xerox will promise to support the dealers, with guaranteed margins a part of the package. Cort said the company would ensure a minimum margin of #600, even if that meant having to supplement sales made by the dealer. And to make its recently-announced 4920 and 4925 colour laser printers more attractive to resellers, it is supplying them packaged with all consumables – toner, developer and so on. The new machines, capable of colour and black and white printing, are built around the same Hitachi Ltd engine as is used in the 4900, and use the same Advanced Micro Devices Inc 29000 RISC as the control processor. Some modifications have been made to the engine so that it can use a toner with finer particle size, to ensure 600 by 600 dot per inch resolution. But the printers’ selling point in the increasingly crowded market place is ‘Intelligent Colour’ – quality control software developed by Xerox in its legendary Palo Alto Research Center, which the calls object-oriented. The software considers a bit map as a class of object different from a line drawing, which it would treat as a graphical object, while text is a third class of object. The application enables the user to ask for separate colour correction of the three types of objects, using different parameters, such as gray scale, vivid colour and photo-realistic among other things. All this can be done from the desktop via a Windows interface. Other marketing points include the ability for users to check the status of the printer’s consumables from the desktop, support for Adobe Systems Inc’s PostScript and Hewlett-Packard’s PCL 5 Printer Command Language. The 4920 and 4925 are basically the same machines, designed for use on a network, but the latter has a 340Mb built-in hard disk that enables users to print and collate multiple documents. A multi-page document can be Raster Image Processed once, sent to the disk, and more than one copy can then be printed. This has the advantage of not blocking the network – and ensuring that the printer actually works at its rated speed. These machines print colour at three pages per minute and, black and white at 12 pages per minute, and come with drivers for Windows, OS/2, Mac OS, Windo
ws NT and Solaris. Both include a floppy disk drive so that if the network fails, users can load files directly at the printer. The 4920 sells for ú7,500, and the 4925 for ú8,500.