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IBM Back to “Copiers” with Production, Workgroup MFPs

10 Jul, 2002 By: Brian Bissett imageSource

IBM Back to “Copiers” with Production, Workgroup MFPs

an absence of roughly two decades from the copier market, IBM reentered the fray
with respective back-to-back launches on April 22 and April 30 of four
multifunction copy/scan/fax options for its rebadged line of Lexmark workgroup
printers, and a pair of new 85 and 105 ppm production copier/printers sourced
from Ricoh.


the 1960’s, IBM had aggressively pursued the emerging copier market that was
overwhelmingly dominated by Xerox at the time. IBM’s first office copier was
distinguished by its use of a roll-fed paper supply. A few years later it was
followed by the Copier II in 1972 and the Copier III. While gaining some
traction in larger accounts, IBM found it increasingly difficult to compete as
Japanese vendors entered the market in the late 1970s. IBM stopped making
copiers in the early 1980s, and in 1988 it sold its remaining copier service and
facilities management business to Eastman Kodak.



entry into the printer-based workgroup MFP market was not a surprise. A year
ago, Boulder-based IBM Printing Systems announced several rebranded Lexmark
laser printers as part of an OEM alliance with the independent printing company
that IBM spun off in 1991. The alliance ended IBM’s own development of
workgroup printers. At the time, IBM was selling printers that combined Fuji
Xerox, Canon and Oki Data engines with third-party controllers, mostly from


opted last year not to pick up Lexmark’s MFP options or bundled systems but
did note that its agreement with Lexmark included those products. The decision
not to launch the MFPs was based on the need to first switch to the new printer
line. With its April 22 announcement, IBM has decided the time is now ripe to
pursue workgroup multifunction sales. In fact, IBM claims that it has in the
past year seen rising interest in MFPs among its customers.


idea behind the new MFP Options is essentially two-fold. First, IBM needs to be
able to compete against vendors of copier-based MFPs (especially
Canon and Xerox)
and printer-based MFPs (especially
HP and Lexmark)
. Second, IBM wants to offer printer customers an MFP upgrade


new M20, M25, M30 and M35 MFP Options work together with five previously
announced B&W printers that range in speed from 20 ppm to 45 ppm, and with
IBM’s recently launched 20 ppm tandem color printer. The M20 and M25 were
expected to ship on April 26, while the M30 and M35 were targeted for
availability on June 14.


MFP Options are relabeled versions of scanner-based copy/print/fax kits that
Lexmark has launched over the past two years. The respective copying, network
scanning and walk-up fax features — and all of the software options — are
the same as those Lexmark offers. IBM’s web prices for the new MFP Options and
for its laser printers are generally about 2-3% higher than Lexmark’s web


new MFP Options use two different generations of Lexmark technology. The M20 and
M25 are based on older devices that connect via a SCSI cable to an expansion
card that fits inside the printer. That card includes a fax modem and interface,
while the basic copying and scanning operations are handled on the standard
print controller.


contrast, the X4500 and X7500 use a new MFP architecture that Lexmark launched
several months ago. These rely on a separate MFP controller that uses a small PC
running embedded Linux. The PC has a low-speed processor, 128 MB of DRAM, a 10
GB hard drive, a 33.6 Kbps fax modem, and Oak PM-48 image processing chips. The
newer MFP options also have a large quarter-VGA touch-screen color control
panel. The controller connects to the network and to the printer via Ethernet,
and it connects to the scanner via a proprietary interface. The controller
mounts in a rack behind the printer and also contains the scanner power supply.


M20 is IBM’s lowest priced MFP option. The $1,448 add-on is equivalent to
Lexmark’s X242 kit, which was launched in mid-2000 and lists for $1,429. The
600 dpi, letter-size, simplex scanner was developed by Avision and includes a
25-sheet feeder. Scan speeds are rated at 10 ppm in B&W and 5 ppm in color.


$1,984 M25 MFP Option is the same as Lexmark’s X443 kit, which was launched
later in 2000. The 600 dpi, letter-size, duplex scanner also comes from Avision.
However, the M25 has a 50-sheet ADF. Scan speeds are 21 ppm in B&W and 10
ppm in color.


$4,340 M30 is the same as the new X4500 MFP Option that Lexmark launched a month
ago. Lexmark has declined to reveal the source of the scanner, which is
presumably from Taiwan. The M30 is a 300 dpi, duplex device with a 50-sheet
document feeder. Scan speeds are 23 ppm in B&W and 14 ppm in color.


says the M20, M25 and M30 are appropriate for any of its 20, 25, 30 or 40 ppm
letter-size B&W Infoprints. These IBM printers have respective starting
prices of $721, $928, $1,199 and $1,759. The printers are the same as
Lexmark’s T520, T522, T620 and T622. The M30 also supports IBM’s new $3,096
letter-size color Infoprint 1220, which is the same as Lexmark’s 20 ppm C750.


M35 MFP Option is a 40 ppm, 600 dpi, B&W, tabloid-size device intended
solely for the 45 ppm Infoprint 1145. The $10,433 M35 is equivalent to
Lexmark’s X7500, which was launched last fall. The tabloid-size 1145 printer
starts at $2,992 and is the same as Lexmark’s W820. The M35 uses a Fuji Xerox
scanner (see sidebar). It has a
50-sheet ADF and the same color control panel as the X4500.


Lexmark, IBM is offering these new MFP Options only as separate printer
accessories. IBM said that having pre-configured MFP systems would unnecessarily
complicate its ordering from Lexmark and its own inventory. However, IBM adds
that it will match Lexmark’s somewhat discounted MFP system prices for its


says its MFP Options are “geared towards providing a better enterprise with an
extended portfolio of distributed output solutions.” However, one must wonder
how IBM can manage to beat Lexmark’s own modest sales of these same
printer-based MFPs. IBM declined to share any targets for MFP sales or give the
desired split between single-function and MFP workgroup models. In short, while
the IBM name means a lot to many customers, these are not likely to be the
models on which IBM will forge MFP success.



April 30 launch of the 85 and 105 ppm Infoprint 2085 and 2105 was more
startling. These are OEM versions of Ricoh’s Aficio 1085 and 1105, which were
released last year as upgraded versions of the Aficio 850 and 1050 that shipped
in 2000. Both IBM models are shipping.


positions the 2085 and 2105 between its 70 ppm Infoprint 70 printer, which uses
a Hitachi engine, and the Infoprint 2000, which is IBM’s version of the 110
ppm Heidelberg Digimaster 9110. While the Digimaster has an optional scanner for
hardcopy capture, it cannot really be considered a copier. The Infoprint 70
lists for $45,000 following a recent price cut, while the least expensive
Infoprint 2000 configuration starts at $200,000.


considered several printer and copier engines to fill this gap, including a new
92 ppm engine from long-standing partner, Hitachi. IBM adds that it is not
concerned about competition from the various Ricoh brands since IBM is selling
exclusively into its own loyal customer base.


the striking black color is the most noticeable difference between the Ricoh and
IBM models, the real difference is the IBM-developed print controller. It is a
new version of the controller in the Infoprint 70. It fits in the same slot as
the Peerless printer card on the Ricoh models. The IBM controller has a 500 MHz
PowerPC 750L processor, 256 MB of RAM, a 10 GB hard drive and 10/100BaseT
Ethernet. Token Ring is a $750 option. The controller supports IBM’s
Intelligent Printer Data Stream (IPDS)
used by its iSeries minicomputers and zSeries mainframes. Optional PCL5e/6 and
Adobe PostScript 3 printing is $4,200. IBM is also discussing with third parties
offering a cluster print solution.


from the different print controller, IBM says that certain aspects of the Ricoh
models were also “hardened” to meet the rigorous demands of transaction
printing. The only other differences are datasheet items. Ricoh quotes copy
speeds of 85 and 105 ppm that match the respective output speeds, while IBM on
both models quotes a 72 ppm copy speed that matches the slower input (i.e.,
speed. Also, IBM quotes a monthly duty cycle of 800,000 pages, versus
Ricoh’s claims of 400,000 pages for the 1085 and 500,000 pages for the 1105.
However, “IBM does not recommend reaching this monthly maximum on a consistent


is also a potential future difference in the area of scanning. While the units
do not currently support scanning, IBM is investigating the demand and believes
it would not be difficult to add. IBM says customers are showing some interest
in scan to e-mail and exporting occasional images.


Infoprint 2085 and 2105 list for $55,000 and $75,000 respectively. They each
come with 3,000 sheets of paper capacity and a 3,500 sheet stacker/stapler. They
can also be equipped with a 4,550 high-capacity feeder ($3,400);
a tabloid-size tray ($1,150) that
replaces one of the standard letter-size trays; and either 2-hole or 3-hole
punch kits for the finisher ($700 each).
While IBM does not sell either of Ricoh’s high-end booklet-maker finishers, it
does offer Ricoh’s Copy Connect cable as a $295 option.


Aficio 1085 and 1105 copiers start at $39,000 and $50,000 without the finisher
or high-capacity feeder, or $48,500 and $59,500 with those items. For
connectivity, Ricoh sells a $3,000 “bare-bones” network PCL card from
Peerless and a higher performance EFI Fiery X2e network printer card with both
PCL and PostScript for $8,500. In addition, Ricoh also offers T/R Systems’
MicroPress X Series servers and software for cluster printing and publishing.


with identical paper handling, IBM’s 2085 copier/printer is $1,400 (i.e.,
more than the Aficio 1085 with the Fiery controller, and IBM’s 2105 is
priced $10,400 (i.e., 17%) higher than
the Aficio 1105 with the Fiery RIP.


bottles for the IBM models are sold in packs of four that list for $446. Each
bottle yields 55,000 pages at 6% coverage, or 0.22¢ per page. IBM does not
quote developer or drum prices. Alternatively, IBM has a click charge of 0.78¢
for supplies, plus a monthly maintenance charge of $325 for 9 hours per day/5
days per week onsite service, or $615 per month for round-the-clock service.
While this is high, IBM says many customers receive discounts of up to 45% on
such charges.


surprisingly, IBM emphasizes printing over copying on the 2085 and 2105, which
it chooses to refer to as “cutsheet printers.” IBM explains that the copying
capability on the new models has been “polarizing” both inside the company
and among customers. One camp sees “free” copying as a bonus, while the
other camp is still leery of perceived copier reliability problems.


IBM has very ambitious expectations for copy volume. IBM believes 20% of total
page volume will be copies in centralized environments, and believes up to 40%
of the clicks could be copies on units distributed closer to end users. IBM is
estimating 100,000 to 200,000 copies per month on top of about 250,000 prints
per month. Regardless of the exact number, all those copies will represent new
clicks for IBM.

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