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Konica Sets Its Sight on Color

15 May, 2002 By: Buyers Laboratory, Inc. imageSource

Konica Sets Its Sight on Color

Xerox and Canon, Konica Business Technologies has set its sights on becoming the
“premier provider of color solutions.” Color was the predominant theme at
Konica’s “Spectrum 2002” international dealer meeting, held last month in
San Francisco. Like its competitors, Konica has targeted color as the next sweet
spot. They pointed out how analysts have predicted full-color will be the
industry standard within five years, and within the next two to three years- all
office products will be color-enabled. In addition to color, other major focuses
for the company are the high end (i.e., print on demand) and developing its own
software and solutions, in addition to partnering with software and solutions


Canon and Xerox already have long histories in color, Konica up until recently
has not had much to offer. In 1999, the only color model offered by Konica was
the Minolta-manufactured 7823, which offers a speed of 6 ppm in color (23 ppm in
black). Last year, it added several products: the 7832; which has a speed of 8
ppm in color (32 ppm in black), two single-pass LED units also manufactured by
Minolta, the 15-ppm 7915 and 20-ppm 7920. This year, it has thus far added the
12-ppm in color (20 ppm in black) 7812 and the 21-ppm (26 ppm in black) 7821
versions of Oki Data’s color LED printers, which use an Oki Data controller.
(Note that Xerox’s versions of these models use an EFI controller.)


Future Looks Rosy

the end of this year, Konica says it will have a full line of color products.
They will include the Konica-developed 50-ppm full-color model first mentioned
at last year’s dealer meeting, is slated for launch late in the fourth
quarter. The 50-ppm color system will be preceded in the third quarter by the
Konica 8020 and 8031, 20- and 30-ppm single-pass color LED units—the first
products to result from the partnership entered into between Konica and Minolta
in 2000.



has promised that its 50-ppm color will do for Konica in the color market what
the 7050 did for Konica in the monochrome digital market. While this unit, which
was developed by Konica alone, was not at the dealer show, Kevin Kern, V.P. of
product development and support for Konica, provided some details in a
videotape. Based on laser technology, it will output 600-x-600-dpi full-color
and black copies and prints at 50 ppm, and feature standard duplexing and an
optional 100-sheet RADF that supports scan once/print many. Standard paper
capacity consists of three 500-sheet paper drawers and a 250-sheet bypass that
can all accommodate 110-lb. index and coated stock. Also, all paper sources,
including the LCT, will support print sizes of 13” x 19.2” for full-bleed
output with crop marks. Finishing is on par with that offered for the 7165 and
7155, with a choice of either a standard finisher or the FS-210 booklet-maker
finisher with trimming. The unit will be offered with an EFI Fiery controller
and will use Konica’s Simitri polymerized toner (eliminating the need for
fuser oil), which is said to allow better image quality. Kern pointed out that
this new unit is half the size of Canon’s CLC 5000 and one-third the size of
Xerox’s DocuColor 2060.


Primed For Color

its 50-ppm model still nine or ten months away, a key focus for Konica, over the
next six months, is getting its dealers ready. Konica reports that, whereas only
15 Konica dealers were actually selling Konica color products in the first
quarter of 2001, over 100 were selling Konica color products in the fourth
quarter and many more will, no doubt, be joining their ranks. Speaking to an
audience of some 800 dealers, Yasuo Matsumoto, chairman and CEO of Konica
Business Technologies, cited “firmly establishing Konica in the color
business” as one of three primary goals for dealers in 2002. Referring to the
upcoming 50-ppm color unit, which he said would offer breakthrough
price/performance. Matsumoto also said, Konica had the machines and would
“continue to invest in sales and service support to make Konica the premier
provider of color solutions,” and urged all dealers to also invest and
participate in color.


Konica has lost some time in the area of color, its dealers have at their
disposal an impressive array of support. Indeed, having attended the dealer
shows of many vendors over the years and having heard the details—or more
often the vague generalities of vendors’ support programs—we’ve come to
the conclusion that, if we were to be selling multifunctional products, Konica
is the company we would want supporting us in that endeavor. In addition to the
formal training that vendors typically provide, Konica offers a wide range of
resources to help its sales people. Particularly impressive is an internally
developed, interactive, Web-based presentation named SECcess. It serves as a
sophisticated “cheat sheet” which sales people can use to feel more
comfortable when initially presenting the concept of various solutions to
customers. This interactive presentation walks a salesperson through the
questions to ask and the choices available to present to a customer who might,
for example, have a minicomputer or mainframe and want to be able to print from
that host computer to their Konica 7075. SECcess provides clear,
easy-to-understand descriptions of applications like host printing, variable
data printing and forms printing, making it a great study aid. It has links to
white papers on Konica’s Web site for more detailed information on various
solutions and software products, which can also be printed out and left with the
customer. Another internally developed application, SmartSearch; allows sales
representatives to submit questions about Konica products or solutions. If an
answer is already in the system it will be automatically e-mailed to the person
who made the inquiry. If not, the question will be intelligently routed to the
product manager responsible for that product. The answer then becomes part of
the database for use for future inquiries. While this application was originally
developed for use within Konica, Konica includes it among the arsenal of
solutions it can offer to customers.


Support To Approach 100

the area of color, the company has just published a Color Success Guide.
It is a complete instructional guide for dealers on establishing a successful
color business. Konica has even reconfigured its competitive digital lab in
Chicago as a color lab equipped with competitive color copier/printers as well
as Macintosh computers and Fiery controllers. It is designed for dealer sales
representatives to get hands-on experience with competitive color models.
Attendance at the lab (which will be ready at the end of the first quarter) will
be limited to eight representatives at a time. Each may attend the three-day
course at no cost. Through its partnership with EFI, Konica is able to offer its
dealers the resources of Fiery Academy as well as Web-based training, in
addition to access to six or seven Fiery employees, one dedicated to each
district sales manager.


vice president of color operations, Steve Jones, was responsible for Xerox’s
color business worldwide from 1994 to 1998. Stressing the need for color
specialists in order to move forward, Jones said that Xerox initially attempted
to realign its black-and-white digital specialists as color
specialists—however, Jones said, that strategy did not work. Consequently, one
of the objectives for Konica dealers in 2002 is for every dealership to have a
color specialist and/or color systems analyst, at least two service technicians
fully trained in color, and fully equipped demo rooms. Konica’s Color Service
and Support Group currently consists of a hotline staffed by 10 color
specialists to answer dealer questions, an additional nine connected color
specialists and six color engine specialists in field technical support, and 14
color specialists in field service support for Konica dealers and branches. By
the end of the year, the company says it expects to have a combined total of
approximately 100 specialists to support its dealer and branch sales and service
of color products. It expects dealers to increase color sales revenues and
profit by 10 percent of their total quota.


Konica faces firmly established competitors, it is encouraging its dealers to
start out by engaging the 36 percent of the market now covered by color copier
dealers other than Xerox and Canon. Konica executives pointed out at the show
that market research has indicated that of the 173,000 color copiers currently
installed in the United States, 90,000 have speeds of less than 9 ppm and are at
least three years old. These older, slower products, whose leases are expiring,
have been targeted by Konica as a primary opportunity for replacement with
Konica color products.

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