Commentary & Analysis
FREE: NexPress, IBM, iGen3 & Comments from the Show Floor
Noel Ward The WhatTheyThink show staff was spread a little thin at the show,
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: May 1, 2002
Noel Ward The WhatTheyThink show staff was spread a little thin at the show, so I'm sure there are things we missed. But to capture a bit more of the flavor and energy, here are a few short takes from our three days at the Javits Center. Plenty of people expressed surprise at the notable absence of IBM Printing Systems. Citing cost issues, sources at Big Blue say IBM's presence at IPEX was sufficient, which may be another way of saying the company had not been happy with response at On Demand in the past year or so--a sentiment in which they were not alone. Still, it seems strange that a company with recently announced products for this market and a new marketing campaign "Power to the Printer," would miss a show that its competitors--Oce, HP, Scitex Digital Printing, Xerox and even the languishing Xeikon--see as being so important. But I guess when you're one of the big dogs, sometimes you can just decide to stay on the porch. Looking Forward to iGen3 Shouldering my way into the packed Xerox booth (nothing like a new machine to draw a crowd!) I quickly found two printers I knew and asked about their take on the iGen3. As it turned out, both have placed orders and are looking forward to having the big machine in their shops. One, a $60+ million dollar shop in the New York metro area sees it as a machine that will change the way his business works. "I do a lot of variable data, but I can't always fill that machine with VI jobs. But I can fill it up with jobs that would have been done on an offset press. The operating cost makes it very attractive for offset transfer." The other, a mid-western printer who just placed an order for an iGen said "Now I have to fill it with work. But based on selling the work that runs on my DocuColor 2060, I don't anticipate any problems." According to Frank Steenburgh at Xerox, the iGen3 has a breakeven point of about 200,000 prints per month, a level that should be within easy reach for a printer who is already able to keep a 2060 more than busy. Comments From the Floor: Mark Hunt, Director of Marketing, Standard Finishing Systems noted the quality and energy of the show attendees. A veteran of many shows and all the On Demand Conferences, Hunt said this year's On Demand was the best show in four years. "The people coming in are realizing they need to buy newer technology to compete. A lot of them have been putting off buying but now they are ready move ahead," noted Hunt. Dianne Merzel, Senior Vice President for Worldwide Marketing at Elixir Technologies was very please with the quality of attendees and the volume of the crowds. "It's been steadily busy every day," she said. "The people coming in are excellent and we were able to justify the show on the very first day." Exstream Software had a deceptively ideal booth location at the front of the show not far from the main entrance, but enough out of the crush of traffic around the Xerox booth so that attendees could visit, see demos and linger as needed. Both Kelley Sloane, Vice President of Marketing and Marketing Manager Jay Pease were pleased with the traffic and response. "We've gotten many very strong leads," said Pease. "It has been a great show for us." NexPress 2100 Running Ahead of Anticipated Print Volumes Chris Payne, Director of Marketing for NexPress says some 170 orders have been taken for the NexPress 2100, with about 20 of those coming in during the first two days of the On Demand show. The units accounted for are equally split between the U.S. and Europe, with about 70 percent going to commercial print shops and the remainder to digital trade shops, such as former graphic arts service bureaus seeing the opportunity for expansion. As anticipated in the original marketing plan for the NexPress 2100, most of the commercial printers buying a NexPress have Heidelberg offset presses such as Speedmasters and Printmasters. But about 15 percent represent new business for the Heidelberg/Kodak venture. A pleasant surprise, notes Payne, is shorter than expected "ramp-up times" for NexPress customers. He said customers have been able to build volume on the machines more quickly than planned, resulting in an average monthly print volume (AMPV) about 20 percent greater than anticipated. However, although Payne said the company's targets were higher than the AMPVs predicted by CAP Ventures (about 120,000), he was unwilling to say what actual or targeted volumes are, or how many print shops are included in these early results. The NexPress 2100 is available with both click-charge and non-click-charge pricing models and both are being adopted. Since most of the early customers are commercial printers, a self-maintenance approach is the most popular. "In shops where there is also a Heidelberg Digimaster 9100 black and white laser printer, that machine has a click charge, while the NexPress 2100 does not. And those customers are beginning to see the value of doing a non-click model," says Payne.