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New Product Announcement: Sharp Debuts New Products, Stresses Commitment To Dealers

11 Apr, 2001 By: Buyers Laboratory, Inc. imageSource

New Product Announcement: Sharp Debuts New Products, Stresses Commitment To Dealers

At its dealer meeting in January, Sharp Electronics Corporation, based in Mahwah, NJ, unveiled 12 new models and stressed its commitment to the independent dealer channel. While other vendors have been offering digital products in the lucrative Segment 5 and now Segment 6 areas of the market, to date Sharp’s highest-end digital model is the 50-ppm AR-507. Sharp announced a much-needed 65-ppm model at the show, the AR-650 IMAGER, an OEM version of Toshiba’s eStudio 65 (an enhanced version of Toshiba’s DP6570) slated for March availability, and announced that it was developing its own high-volume digital products. Yoshiaki Ibuchi, general manager of Sharp’s Digital Document Systems Group, said, “Sharp executives in the United States have told me that some of you have taken on a competitive product line to compensate for Sharp not currently offering high-volume digital products. I am happy to declare my personal commitment to bring Sharp-developed digital products to the U.S. market as fast as humanly possible.”

Toshiyuki Tajima, Sharp’s chief executive officer of Sharp’s North and South American Operations and chairman of the board, told the 1,000-plus dealers were in attendance, “It is my goal that in the near future, Sharp will again earn the right to be your sole supplier of copier, printer, document and communications products, and software.”

Among the other new products announced at the meeting were:

· The AR-C160, a 16-ppm color copier with an optional embedded print controller, slated for May availability. While this model offers a color speed that is 1 ppm faster than that of its predecessor, the AR-C150, its black speed is 7 ppm faster, at 32 ppm.

· Four new models that upgrade Sharp’s current Segment 1 offerings. They are the 16-ppm AR-162 ($2,495) and AR-163 ($2,895), recommended by Sharp for monthly volumes of up to 20,000 copies; and the 20-ppm AR-201 and AR-207, recommended by Sharp for up to 30,000 copies.

The AR-201 and AR-207 are identical except that the AR-207 offers automatic duplexing and a standard re-circulating set document handler. All four units offer a 25 percent increase in duty cycle. They feature scan once/print many capability, and optional 600-dpi printing and faxing. These new models also represent a return to service-replaceable consumables, whereas their predecessors employed an all-in-one customer-replaceable cartridge that contained the drum. According to Sharp, this change accounts for a 40 percent reduction in cost per page for these models versus their predecessors.

· Three new 15-ppm models, the AR-151 ($1,695), AR-F152 ($2,995) and AR-156 ($2,295) IMAGERS, available now, that, according to Sharp, offer a cost per page that is reduced by 65 percent over their predecessors, again because of their use of multiple service-replaceable consumables. These models are recommended by Sharp for monthly volumes up to 15,000 pages per month.

· Two new Segment 2 models, the 23-ppm AR-235 and the 27-ppm AR-275, slated for April availability, which are offered with optional network print (1,200-dpi), fax (33.6-Kbps) and scan capability. Both support PCL 5e/6 and optional PostScript 3 and offer a standard paper capacity consisting of two 500-sheet paper drawers and a 100-sheet bypass tray.

· Two printer-centric multifunctional products, Sharp’s first, the 35-ppm AR-M350 and 45-ppm AR-M450, which will employ the same user interfaces and monitoring and management software as Sharp’s copier-centric IMAGER Series offers. These models are slated for a summer debut.

Noting that Sharp regained the top position in the fax market in 1999, Sharp executives asserted that Sharp is “committed to the fax market” and “intends to be a dominant player for years to come.” Beginning with the introduction of the FO-4970 later this spring, all fax devices will be called Document Communications Systems and, “there will be a growing convergence of software between copier and facsimile platform products.” In addition, as of this month, all business fax models will offer Super Group 3 technology, while 14.4-Kbps technology will be used in retail models only.

In addition to introducing two new fax machines, the FO-4650 and FO-4970, Sharp unveiled its optional Internet Kit, which provides scan-to-e-mail, fax router and Internet fax capability, for its FO-6700.

To support its dealers, Sharp announced a new Web-based training program in solutions selling techniques that will debut in April to supplement the training on Sharp and third-party products offered through the company’s Education Services Department and the company’s existing ImageTrack solutions selling system. Also announced was the launch of a Competitive Color Lab focusing on selling against color products from Canon and Xerox as an addition to Sharp’s competitive labs in New Jersey, Illinois and California.

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