Commentary & Analysis
FREE: WhatTheyThink's April Fools 2004 Edition
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: April 2, 2004
Xerox, Adobe, Creo, HP, Kodak, and Others Announce Non-Acquisition Plans April 1, 2004 -- In response to journalist inquiries about planned M&A activity, the following major graphic arts companies announced their upcoming, non-acquisitions: - Adobe will not be acquiring Apple, to the disappointment of thousands of graphic designers. - Georgia Pacific and Weyerhaeuser will not be merging, though they will exchange tree farms of equal size and age. - Banta will not be acquiring Bowne, since Bowne & Co., founded in 1775, is more than 125 years older than Banta, founded in 1903. These May/December relationships rarely work out. - Xerox and HP will not be merging, although Anne and Carly would be a great team. - EFI will not be acquiring Creo, to no one’s surprise. - Kodak will not be acquiring Lexmark or Xeikon, although the possibility has not been completely ruled out. - Océ announced the company will not be acquiring IBM Printing Systems; however, IBM did not corroborate the announcement. Creo Buys Pfaltzgraf by Accident April 1, 2004 -- Creo announced today that it mistakenly acquired Pfaltzgraf, realizing too late that their plates were not intended for use on printing presses. An unnamed source familiar with the situation stated that it was confusion over the terms "plate setting" and "platesetting" that led to the mixup. Annual Report with Your Order? SEC and Corporate Governance to Stimulate Print Demand April 1, 2004 -- The Securities and Exchange Commission will require publicly traded companies to provide a printed copy of their annual report to every customer starting in June. The new regulation is in response to recent corporate fraud allegations and the SEC's attempt to fully expose companies to the public. Most companies lobbied against this "Draconian" measure, including Wal-Mart. Kit Karson, spokesman for the giant retailer said that some of its customers could receive up to 50 copies of its annual report each year. "While we appreciate the SEC's attempt at full disclosure, this measure will ultimately cost consumers more." Leaders in the printing industry lobbied hard for the measure. Jack Beam, Assistant Lobbyist for Print, released a statement listing the many advantages of the new regulation. "Think of all the people that could possibly become investors in these firms after reading the annual reports. This program promotes reading, investing in America and much more." WACKs Seek Age Limit for Print Consumption, Must be 45 Years Old April 1, 2004 -- The World Association to Control Knowledge, a Washington-based watchdog group, will ask Congress to set a minimum age for people using printed material. Tye Loose, WACK's Executive Director, said the plan would reduce environmental damage and grow the economy at warp speed by encouraging the shift to digital devices. "Eventually we would like all print to be phased out, but since the older generation is not as familiar with the digital revolution, we believe 45 is a good age to start." Printers were quick to respond with emails, faxes and mail to their Congressmen denouncing the proposal. Jack Beam, Assistant Lobbyist for Print, said printers should not worry too much. "The WACKs proposed a Do Not Print List last year and they were laughed out of Congress," he said. "We believe this group lacks credibility and most people think they are wacky." Postal Service to Share Rate Increase Revenue with Printers April 1, 2004 -- In a shocking move, the United States Postal Service has proposed a plan to share any rate increase revenue with commercial printers. The move is seen by postal watchers as a way for the Postal Service to get the powerful print lobby on its side. The powerful print lobby has slowed the Postal Service's plans to increase postage rates, saying that customers would be harmed and print demand would decline. Postal officials hope the revenue sharing plan will speed up the next big rate hike. "We want a 30% increase by the summer of 2004," said Henry Potter, USPS spokesman. Jack Beam, Assistant Lobbyist for Print, said he was not quite ready to comment, having just received the news. "We'll have to see what this really means, but I imagine we'll be ramming this rate hike through Congress tomorrow." Leading Printers Send Sales Reps to China, Countering Chinese Print Buyers Expo April 1, 2004 -- Banta, Quebecor World, Quad Graphics, Standard Register and RR Donnelley plan to send a delegation of 24 salespeople to China this summer. The printers say the move is in response to China's upcoming Print Buyers Show for Americans. The Chinese government will pay all expenses for any print buyer in North America to attend the show and pre-registrations have already surpassed 20,000. The sales reps will divide China into five areas and conduct what one source called "a good old fashioned American sales blitz." Meanwhile, Jack Beam, Assistant Lobbyist for Print, says his team is working with Congress to ban print from China. Triumvirate Forms Worlds Largest Graphic Arts Company April 1, 2004 – International Paper, DonnelleyMooreWallace, and FedEx (Kinko’s) announced today the merger of the three multi-billion dollar companies to form the nation’s largest vertical industry conglomerate: "InternationalPaperDonnelleyMooreWallaceKinkosFedEx." The new company, with a market cap of more than $50 billion, will be known as IPDMWKFX and will brand products from paper to print and delivery services with the new tagline: "From Tree to Thee." PrintTV Update: A Cash Cow in the Making April 1, 2004 -- PrintTV, the new cable channel launched last year, has proven to be a big hit. Shows such as “Wake Up Rochester” with Frank Romano and Barb Pellow have seen their ratings jump 20% in recent weeks. Regis Delmontagne, President of the Graphic Arts Television Show Company (GAtSC), expects 2004 to be even better. "Last year's line-up was really strong and we plan to keep many of the same programs. But we have a few surprises, too, for our competitors." PrintTV's primary competitor is InternetTV which launched in January. Insiders at GAtSC say that InternetTV has essentially copied its format. Competing in the same time slot with "Wake Up Rochester" is a program called "Wake Up Silicon Valley" hosted by Steve Case and Steve Jobs. (See announcement from last year.) Legislation establishes cabinet-level Digital Imaging Czar and sets penalties for bad files April 1, 2004 -- Graphic designers beware. An agreement has been reached in the Senate, with strong verbal support in the House of Representatives and from the President, for a cabinet-level position of "Digital Imaging Czar." The primary focus of the czar will be "to initiate, monitor and maintain error-free digital files used in all areas of graphic imaging including print and the Internet." Enforcement actions for bad digital files will include a first time warning, then penalties of up to $1,000 per job for any digital file that is "improperly, incorrectly or otherwise poorly prepared." The fine will be charged to the file preparer and records will be kept mandating required training. Under the law, nonpayment of fines could result in up to a $10,000 penalty and/or six months in jail. There is a "three strike" clause in the legislation whereby if any graphic provider violates the provisions of the law three or more times in any calendar year, the czar can legally move for arrest of the party or parties. "No Child Left Behind" yields substantial literacy gains April 1, 2004 -- Based on just-released government studies and unparalleled funding by the Bush Administration’s "No Child Left Behind" educational program, literacy in the U.S. is expected to improve dramatically in the next five years. Administration estimates indicate that this improved literacy will substantially increase the sale of literacy-based products including books, magazines, newspapers, and catalogs, by at least twenty percent in the next year, with increasing percentages after that. In order to keep this momentum going, and in light of reducing the huge deficit, the Bush Administration is considering methods whereby a small percentage of the profits from these products will be recycled into a special "No Child Left Behind" fund. EFI Introduces Radical New Technology April 1, 2004 -- EFI has introduced a radically new concept in portable reading devices: Bio-Optic Organized Knowledge--trade named BOOK. BOOK does not require wires, electricity, batteries, or high-tech circuitry. It's so easy to use, even a child can operate it. Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere—even sitting in an armchair by a fire—yet it is powerful enough to hold as much information as a CD-ROM. BOOK is constructed of sequentially numbered sheets of recyclable paper, each capable of holding gigabits of information. The pages are locked together sequential order and BOOKs with more information have more pages. Each page is scanned optically, registering information directly into your brain. EFI is attempting to patent this process, claiming that the brain is actually a DFE—DNA Front End. Information is selected with the flick of the finger from a user-friendly GUI. BOOK boots immediately merely by opening it and never crashes or requires rebooting, though like other display devices it can become unusable if dropped in toxic waste. A browse feature allows you to move instantly to any sheet, forward or backward as you wish. BOOK may come with an "index" feature which pinpoints the exact location of information for instant retrieval. Print Consolidation to Simplify Procurement Process April 1, 2004. Noted Futurist Dr. Clair Voyent predicts that in 2008 the print procurement process will be greatly simplified when, after the last industry merger, there will be only one printing company left in the United States. This will provide true one-stop shopping for the U.S.'s sole remaining print buyer—Wal-Mart. Agfa Introduces Revolutionary Stealth Screening April 1, 2004 -- Agfa has advanced halftone screening to a new level with a revolutionary new technology called "stealth screening." The patent application is blank and examiners are seeking prior art on emptiness. Stealth dots are perfectly round, but transparent. Thus, there is no need to angle them since if you angle a round dot, it rolls. The dots are modulated by a wavelet astigmatism controlled by fuzzy logic that processes the pixels through a Cuisinart, using proprietary "slice and dice" technology. Special stealth colors are printed on a press that is run without any ink, which speeds make-ready substantially. Since the images are not visible, moiré is virtually eliminated, except for photos of snow on tinted paper. Pantone colors are unlisted. At 400% magnification, you can see a lot more of nothing, which means that we may eventually develop stealth paper as well so we can print nothing on nothing. New Standards in Genetics April 1, 2004 -- Genetics engineers have discovered that maleness is determined by a special Y chromosome. Not just any Y chromosome. It must be an Adobe Garamond Bold Italic small cap Y. Microsoft Announces Groundbreaking Advance Designed to Simplify Computer Use April 1, 2004 -- Microsoft has developed Operating Manual Pills. Just pop one in your mouth and learn a program instantly. Danger! Do not take more than one at a time or you will know too much for your own good. Safer Cell Phones from Nokia April 1, 2004 -- Nokia and the American Dental Association have developed cell phones that are implanted in one's teeth. Benefits include complete hands-free operation, tongue-operated text messaging, and a cool mint flavor. Mouse Strike Threatened April 1, 2004 -- IBM ViaVoice input is going to wipe out mouses. This has created a problem in the computerized rodent world. The mice have their own union (United Mouse Workers) to promote new jobs for mice and protect against cheap foreign mouse labor. The industry has been bracing for a mouse strike by training operators to go back to cursor keys. The mouse union organizer said, "We are tired of being pushed around."