The Graphic Communications Group within Eastman Kodak Co is building a different partner channel to support a push into the distributed scanner market currently dominated by rival vendor Fujitsu.
The Rochester, New York-based company is the market leader in the $190m production-capture end of the business scanner space, with around 50% share.
David Whitton, cluster manager for Northern Europe for Kodak’s Graphic Comms Group, said the machines are sold into corporate headquarters and the mailrooms of big banks for scanning upwards of 5,000 documents a day. We’ve been in distributed capture for about five years, with a real focus for about three, he said. That segment of the market, worth a further $630m, is dominated by Fujitsu, with around 50% share, while Kodak has about 15%.
This is the segment above the flatbed scanners aimed at the SoHo market by the likes of HP and Canon but below the big machines in production capture. It’s where you’re typically want to scan between 15 and 250 pages a minute, said Whitton. He said the company seeks to differentiate itself in this space in two areas: paper feed where its machines can handle different sizes and thicknesses of paper, and image quality where Kodak offers dynamic thresholding for color.
Color scanning still represents a small percentage of the market compared to black and white, but Whitton forecast a change in the next couple of years due to the emergence of the supercompressed PDF format. They will take us into color and we’re keen to see it because it plays into out strengths, he said.
The additional focus on distributed capture takes Kodak more heavily into SMB. Whitton said Kodak’s biggest market for these machines in the UK is in doctors’ surgeries, opticians, and the offices of independent financial advisers. For this reason, he said it has signed up Northamber Plc as a distributor for this space in the UK, while in Germany it is using Ingram Micro. Our normal channel [for production capture] is talking to 600 VARs, whereas Northamber talks to 6,000, he said.
He said the Northamber deal came about thanks to the distributor’s relationship with Lenovo. Their laptops had begun to ship with Mangofile, an entry-level personal document management package developed by a UK ISV called Paradigm, so they needed an input device to accompany them, he said. We’re now going to bundle Mangofile into our i30 and i40 machines for this purpose in the UK, and there is the potential for it to go into other markets [on our boxes] too.
Higher up its distributed capture portfolio, Kodak bundles the current market leader in personal document management, PaperPort, on its i1200 device, as well as the OmniPage OCR from Nuance. However, Mangofile offers a number of distinct advantages over PaperPort, in particular its ability to index documents in database formats.
On the product side, Kodak launched six new devices across the production and distributed sides of the portfolio in 2006, with one scanner, the Scan Station, targeting specifically organizations with a central IT department and a network of offices to which it distributes software updates and the like. It’s network scanning for document distribution, said Whitton, adding that its primary competition is HP’s Digital Sender in this niche. He said it will launch more devices in the distributed capture side over the next three to four months.