The opening day of drupa had the press conferences from two of the industry' leaders, these being Kodak and Xerox, two companies from Rochester NY. They came to drupa with very different backgrounds. Kodak is in the middle of its Chapter 11 operations, while Xerox is doing well and expanding its services business on a worldwide basis.
While Kodak is introducing a number of new and updated products with ten new introductions, the main emphasis of their press conference was a coverage of the position of the company. In this Chairman and CEO of Kodak, Antonio Perez, did a great performance in front of some aggressive, and often irrelevant questions covering the position of the company. A good point of this was it was all done without any PowerPoint slides. One can get very tired of PowerPoint slides, particularly where a senior executive takes too much time telling the press what is already known. Perhaps this is to limit the time for nasty questions. Perhaps HP, Konica Minolta and some others should take note of this comment. Perez's performance was to my mind the ideal presentation for a CEO taking fifteen minutes for his talk and then spending forty-five minutes answering questions.
His message was that the company was progressing well and customers were continuing to buy equipment and orders were up, and suppliers were maintaining supplies. The company he indicated was progressing well with its plan for emergence from Chapter 11 in 2013. This included preparing the non-strategic intellectual property assets for a bidding sale later in the year. Personally I was impressed with what I heard. I also felt when looking at their stand later that the company was looking very positive and their stand was buzzing with visitors.
The situation with Xerox however I found very different. I personally feel that Xerox has lost direction in the graphic arts market as it concentrates on building its services business. Many of the key staff that have driven the rise of Xerox have now left the company and it has lacked a graphic arts leader. The recent appointment of Jeff Jacobson I think has been a really excellent move and I hope he can reinstall a drive and direction in the market that I feel the company has lacked for some time.
At drupa I feel Xerox is a real disappointment and has few new developments to talk about. The major announcement is the new iGen 150 press that will help Xerox maintain its leadership position in this area of the market. I am surprised I have not seen this press before. In discussions I have had with Xerox over many years, 150 pages/min was always something I was advised was achievable. I hope that this will be enough because the competitors to Xerox are massing. HP Indigo's has uprated their 7500 press to the 7600 with a speed increase, and the latest Nexpress has so much more to offer than the iGen 150 in terms of functionality and even larger image size. I also see the new Konica Minolta biz hub PRESS 1100 moving into the iGen business space. One must also not forget Xeikon if one wants even higher performance, image size and high-quality.
The other "new" announcement from Xerox was the Cipress 325 inkjet press. This isn't really a new press as it appears to be the same press as the Cipress 500 but running at 600 x 600 dpi at a slower speed. The Cipress 325 can be upgraded to a Cipress 500 in the field by reducing the resolution and gaining speed.
To have so few real announcements from such a key company is surprising particularly when new hungry companies like Landa can introduce so much in new directions.
I hope my assessment of Xerox is wrong but I feel from discussions with many Xerox people that it is not. I really hope that Jeff Jacobson will be able to drive Xerox in the market so they will retain their role as one of the key drivers in the market.