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Affordability of Color Laser Printers Revolutionizes Printing

24 Jan, 2003 By: Bridget Kester imageSource

Affordability of Color Laser Printers Revolutionizes Printing

Are the days of some
monochrome laser printers numbered? Recent printer introductions by HP and
Minolta-QMS (with more on the way from other vendors!) are breaking down the
barriers to color laser printer ownership.

Professional quality
color laser printers have been around for several years, but the printer size
and price have been two major barriers to adoption, especially by small
businesses. The large size and even larger price tags of color page printers
have been a major inhibitor, preventing businesses, as well as consumers, from
adding color to their in-house printing capabilities.

As a result, some
companies have instead invested in monochrome page technologies and learned to
live without color printing. Other companies rely heavily on monochrome printers
and turn to cheaper inkjet printers for intermittent color. Personal users
simply have not had a choice - the smaller footprint and smaller price tags of
inkjets made them the only practical solution available. But with the recent
introduction of sub-$1,000 color laser printers, a threshold has been broken,
allowing companies and high-end personal users to finally consider a color laser
printer for all their output tasks.

New Dealer
Opportunities HP and Minolta-QMS are the first companies to introduce color
laser printing for less than $1,000. In September, HP introduced its LaserJet
2500L for $999 and Minolta-QMS introduced its Magicolor 2300DL for an unheard of
$799, roughly half the average price of today's base configuration A4 color
laser. In addition to breaking the $1,000 price point, these printers are much
smaller than their predecessors. The HP LaserJet 2500L and the Minolta-QMS
Magicolor 2300DL each weigh close to 50 pounds and have footprints similar to
the typical monochrome laser printers that they intend to replace.

Today most offices
in the United States have already made the commitment to black and white laser
and/or LED printing; the next step is to get these same office users to commit
to color page-printing technology. Although companies typically want to add
color printing to their office environments, it has been cost-prohibitive.
Monochrome laser printers have always been cheaper than their color
counterparts, including the actual price of the printer, as well as the cost of
consumables replacements. While monochrome laser printing typically costs about
2 cents per page, the cost of printing in color averages closer to 11 cents per
page. Minolta-QMS says that its Magicolor 2300DL costs 11 cents per color page,
while HP says that its LaserJet 2500L costs 12 cents per color page.

However, now that
the prices of color laser printers have dropped below $1,000, more businesses
can consider color laser printing as an option. The use of the Internet has
increased the desire for color printing so that companies can capture on paper
what customers see on their color computer screens. During the slow economy,
companies look to color to help them stand out among competitors. In addition,
color printing in-house cuts down on costs that typically would be outsourced to
the local print shop.

Color laser printers
will continue down a path similarly trodden by other technologies: smaller size,
more features, and lower price. Entry price points of color laser printers will
continue to drop, conceivably below $500 in the next three to five years. At
that point, color laser printers will be less cost-prohibitive and will have a
substantially better chance to replace monochrome laser printers throughout
small and home offices as well as in larger business environments.

Kester is employed by ARS Inc., a competitive market intelligence, tools, and
analysis company that analyzes daily market, channel, and product changes to
inform clients on what is happening and why, analyze relevant impacts, and
predict what to expect in the near term. Located in La Jolla, CA, ARS can be
reached at 858/551-0008 or www.ars1.com

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