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Acquisitions & the Production Perspective

15 Oct, 2008 By: Infotrends Infotrends imageSource

Acquisitions & the Production Perspective

IKON acquisition fits another nice puzzle piece into Ricoh’s efforts to expand
into the production market. Ricoh had little impact in production environments
prior to its acquisition of Lanier. This desire to address production markets
accelerated with the acquisition of Hitachi Printing Systems and InfoPrint
Solutions Company’s joint venture with IBM. Now with this acquisition and the
imminent launch of the RICOH Pro C900 (see the InfoTrends analysis entitled
Ricoh to Launch RICOH Pro C900 at Graph Expo 2008 from August 27, 2008), Ricoh
has enviable coverage of the production market from a product and a
service/support perspective.

Ricoh’s production-oriented product offerings will now range from cut-sheet
MFPs to high-volume continuous feed products. Ricoh already had its own Pro
series, DDP, EMP, and InfoPrint 4100 monochrome products. The acquisition of
IKON would bring in additional production-oriented monochrome offerings from
Canon (imageRUNNER and imageRUNNER Pro) and Konica Minolta (the IKON-branded
PrintCenterPro). For color, Ricoh’s Aficio products will soon be joined by the
Pro C900. Also in the color portfolio are the InfoPrint Solutions Company
InfoPrint 5000 and the Kodak NexPress 2100plus, s2500, s3000, and s3600, which
are sold by Ricoh PPBG in the U.S. through a partnership with Kodak. With the
IKON acquisition, new color products would likely join the mix, including
offerings from Canon (CLC, Color imageRUNNER, and imagePRESS C1, C6000, C6000VP,
and C7000VP) and Konica Minolta (the IKON-branded versions BusinessPro and CPP).
The acquisition would also add Canon imagePROGRAF wide format products.


While the focus will be on Canon and Konica Minolta regarding their ongoing
relationship with IKON, this acquisition also has important implications in the
production space for Kodak for two reasons. First, Kodak already has an
agreement with Ricoh PPBG to resell the Kodak NexPress Digital Press along with
Kodak’s production workflow solution portfolio in the United States. Second,
Kodak’s Digimaster is sold through Canon, which also offers it through IKON.
IKON is an extremely important channel for this product. Canon’s drupa 2008 demo
of a 135-ppm monochrome imagePRESS printer indicates that it has some products
in the pipeline that will be competitive with Digimaster. This puts pressure on
Kodak’s relationship with Canon. In addition, Kodak’s announcement of its plans
for a faster Digimaster in a dual-engine configuration (see the InfoTrends
analysis entitled Kodak Announces a 300-ipm Addition to its Digimaster Series at
drupa 2008 from July 18, 2008) shows that it has an ongoing strategy for
Digimaster that will require a strong production-oriented distribution partner.
It is not hard to imagine a strengthening of the Kodak/Ricoh relationship that
would expand the U.S. NexPress distribution agreement and include expanded
distribution options for Digimaster-based products.

Over the past few years, Japanese vendors like Canon, Konica Minolta, and
Ricoh have shown increasing levels of interest in the production market,
particularly around color. Companies like HP, Kodak, and Xerox have held the
high ground in the production color market, but the competitive mix is clearly
changing. With its imagePRESS C7000VP, Canon has challenged Xerox and others in
this space. Now Ricoh will be joining the fray with its RICOH Pro C900. In
addition, Ricoh’s acquisition of Hitachi Printing Systems, its InfoPrint
Solutions joint venture, its distribution partnership with Kodak NexPress, and
now the acquisition of IKON are all important signs of Ricoh’s commitment to the
production market.

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