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Can HP really transform the A3 Print Market? 1/2

HP has made several failed attempts in the past to take market share from the A3 ‘Copier’ vendors, starting with the ill-fated ‘Mopier’, and more recently trying again with Edgeline – which although not successful it its original guise, has provided the basis for the PageWide range, which now appears to be enjoying much greater success.

 

Now HP is extending the PageWide range with A3 models, announced last year, and adding a complementary new range of A3 LaserJets, coming from the Samsung acquisition. The new devices will be supported by a comprehensive set of management tools, in the form of Smart Device Services (SDS), designed to optimise usage efficiency and minimise service costs, as part of HP’s revamped MPS offering. HP has made big efforts to consult with the Channel and as a result, the new range of services appears to offer much greater flexibility to meet differing channel partner needs, including the ability to work with almost all of the leading industry DCA tools (e.g. PrintFleet, FM Audit, BITS, EKM, MPS Monitor, etc.)

In addition to new devices and management tools, HP is also addressing print and printer security, a rapidly growing area of concern.  They have announced a comprehensive suite of features, including device security right down to the firmware level, and a range of services to help customers assess, monitor and manage security on an ongoing basis.

Does this all add up to a winning formula, with which HP can now succeed in knocking the A3 ‘Copier’ vendors off their perch? Since HP’s business model is predominantly channel based, the key to success lies with channel partners – both existing HP partners and new partners they are recruiting, who currently work with the competition. Many channel partners approach this with a degree of cynicism, based on experience of past promises from HP which have not followed through to success. Could it be different this time?

 

We think the answer may be ‘Yes’, for a number of reasons.

Firstly, when talking to channel partners, we detect a palpable sense of excitement, that what HP is offering now is truly new and exciting, and could be a potential game changer. Not least, at a commercial level, we hear from partners that the new HP offering looks highly competitive compared with the existing A3 vendors – something HP has never been able to achieve in the past. Conversely, we are also picking up signals that the A3 vendors are worried, and are taking HP’s new initiatives very seriously as a material threat to their business.

Secondly, the industry is ripe for change. The long forecast decline in print volumes is now a rapidly accelerating reality, which is putting big pressure on revenues and margins for both vendors and channel partners. At the same time, IT security hits the headlines with growing frequency as a major area of concern, with a growing realisation that this applies to all network endpoints, including printers, and not just PCs and servers. In this scenario, HP’s proposition of a step change in device efficiency and security offers something which both addresses user needs, and provides a way for channel partners to shore up their revenues and margins, if they can succeed with it.

The challenge here is to bridge the gap between the growing security market and the print market which, as a whole, is declining. HP will need to provide active support to the marketing and sales teams supporting its partner teams, as well as its direct operations.

2nd part to be published on next Tuesday.

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This article was written on 27 Apr 2017, and is filled under Business Forecast, Point of View.

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