Commentary & Analysis
Free Special: Busy to the Last Call: Wrapping Up Xplor
by Noel Ward,
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: November 1, 2002
by Noel Ward, Editor@Large November 1, 2002 -- HIGH NOON. LAST DAY OF THE SHOW. A time when things begin to wind down; people packing up, show bags full, heading for cabs and shuttles and airplanes and home. But here in Anaheim, where many predicted the swan song of Xplor, the show floor is still busy. The booths of the big equipment vendors, from IBM and Océ, to Bell & Howell and Pitney Bowes, to Roll Systems, Scitex, Gunther, and Xerox are all still well-populated with attendees. And while you can always find those wishing for more traffic, all the vendors I spoke with are thoroughly pleased with the folks coming to see their wares. By the time I bailed a little after 3 PM, the crowds were finally thinning but there were still people crowding many booths. Carl Joachim, VP of Marketing at Océ said, "You can always wish for more, but we’ve had very good volume and good quality people coming in." That was echoed by Jason Oliver, Director of Page Printing Products at Scitex Digital Printing: "We’ve seen a tremendous interest in what we are offering. There has been steady traffic every day. It has been very good for us." George McKenna, president of Roll Systems also noted his pleasure with the people checking out Roll’s elegant, well-thought out pre- and post-processing equipment. So did Dennie Runge at IBM Printing Systems, who herded me through a busy booth showing off the software solutions behind IBM’s Infoprint family of printers. Speaking of Big Blue, look for IBM to add the new Heidelberg 9110m to its line to augment the Infoprint 2000, which is a regular 9110 dressed in IBM black and running IBM Infoprint software. Details to follow at a later date. No word yet about whether the Digimaster 9150i will join the Infoprint line-up, but my guess is that it will before long. IBM says it’s "evaluating the machine." Anyway, the traffic at the show all bodes well for next year. The show daily Wednesday morning reported that some 82 percent of the vendors here in Anaheim have signed up for space at Xplor 2003 in Atlanta. Some 6,000 total people were here in Anaheim, which translates to perhaps 4,000 "real" attendees, after you take out all the vendor staff and preferred customers and the freeloading analysts and journalists. This is hardly a huge number, but indicates there is still a place for Xplor and that vendors believe they need to be here in the final quarter of the year. Stuff on the Floor The award for Best Product in a Supporting Role has to go to Videk. A number of printing and mailing systems at Xplor are equipped with one version or another of Videk’s InviziCode invisible ink system. This technology is generating a lot of interest among transactional printers and direct mailers who can use it for both tracking and personalization. In Videk’s booth one system was reading an invisible 2D bar code in an address through the window in an envelope. The envelope was then imprinted in black, red and blue with a personalized message to the recipient, postal indicia and return address. At Roll Systems, a Videk system placed a color logo on blank paper which could reduce the need for preprinting on forms used for high-volume letters or statements on print systems. For some customers this could be a viable way to offer limited highlight color printing. Essentially the same print heads are used on all the systems and can easily be switched on and off and moved to allow printing on different spots on a page or envelope. Look for broad adoption of this technology now that it is generally available. Also getting exposure all over the show floor was Rochester Software Associates. The leading provider of solutions for print production, viewing and management of output was featured in the exhibits of business partners Adobe, IBM, IKON, Océ, and Xerox. Of particular interest for large corporations, universities, financial firms, and government offices is the integration of Adobe PDF Transit in RSA’s WebCRD. This combination provides a complete print fulfillment and production solution for in-house print centers and facilities management sites. Adobe PDF Transit enables users to select the "Print" command from within any application to create, review, and submit a secure, stable, print-ready Adobe PDF file to an authorized print center using WebCRD. PDF Transit simplifies PDF creation and ensures the reliability of results while linking the job ticket and encrypted PDF submitted for production in WebCRD. Print centers can rely on the stability of the Adobe PDF submitted, and reduce preflight time and expense--resulting in faster throughput, higher equipment utilization, and a reduced cost of operations. Because WebCRD is browser-based, print center services are available from any computer with network or Internet access. WebCRD supports the entire print fulfillment process from order placement and file submission through print production, including direct submission to production printers with detailed electronic job tickets that have been completed directly by end users. RocSoft is also introducing QDirect, a print manager for workflow control, job routing, and print queue management. QDirect allows organizations to consolidate print jobs from multiple sources to a single point and distribute the output to production, workgroup or desktop printers. Fun and Games at the Xplor Party I can’t leave you without mentioning the Monday night Xplor party at ESPN Zone sponsored by Scitex Digital Printing. ESPN Zones are always great party venues and this one was no exception. There was Monday Night Football on every TV including one theatre-sized screen where the hardcore fans cheered on whatever teams were playing (I truly have no idea!). Then there were the San Diego Chargers cheerleaders, who danced, posed for photos with eager Xplorers and performed some of their athletic dance and cheering routines. Upstairs, the video games had steady activity thanks to the mag strip cards given to attendees pre-loaded with a few dozen game points. The driving games rarely had an empty seat, while air hockey, basketball and even electronic boxing drew steady participants. Those who needed to augment their alcohol intake with a little adrenaline went to the climbing wall, where not quite everyone made it to the top. Ever the good host, Scitex CEO Homi Shamir went up the wall with Xplor president James Shand. Homi had clearly been up a few rock walls in the past and climbed quickly, pausing only to help Jim who "came off" a little shy of the top. "I saved his life," Homi joked later, with a smile. And last night, (Anaheim in the rearview) I found that Scitex guys are just plain fun to hang with, party or not. Jason Oliver, Tom Coburn, Tom Looby and Rich (sorry , but I just don’t have your last name) and I went to dinner in LA for some post-show relaxing. And you know the best thing, aside from the huge range of things we talked about? None of us mentioned anything to do with Xplor or digital printing. After a pretty intense few days at Xplor we were at last off duty. And here and now, at 41,000 feet on Southwest Airlines flight 114 out of LAX, so am I.