HP Inc.’s plans to revive its struggling printing business involve a lot of copying.
The personal computer and printer company said on Monday that it would debut a line of copy machines next year, marking its first foray into the dedicated copier market. The new line of copier machines comes on the same day HP said it would buy Samsung’s printing business for $1.05 billion.
HP executives said the new copiers are based on some of Samsung’s laser printing technology
The move is the latest by HP Inc. to revive its struggling business in the face of falling demand for its computers and printers. It is also represents a curious retro strategy based on a technology that, although still a big seller, is used less and less.
Still, Enrique Lores, HP’s president of imaging and printing, voiced optimism for the initiative. Copy machines still account for $55 billion in annual sales, which could be lucrative if the company gained a sizable share.
“We think this market is going to be a healthy market for many years,” Lores said.
HP plans to sell 16 versions of its new LaserJet and PageWide copy machines for $2,000 to $28,000. The more costly models will be aimed at big organizations that want their machines to more quickly make copies than the lower-end models. Customers would also be able to pay for extra features like networking cards or more memory, Lores explained.
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HP believes that by entering the copier market, it will have a better chance to offset the slowing demand for its traditional businesses. The company’s revenues have declined for the last three quarters since it split in November from its data center specialist sibling, Hewlett Packard Enterprise. HP’s printer sales declined 14% year-over-year to $4.4 billion in its fiscal third quarter. From an accounting perspective, copy machine revenue would be lumped into the printer category (under commercial hardware) and help offset those declines.
“It is very important to get the printing business back to growth again,” Lores said.
Various analysts and research reports like one released in June by Gartner show that the overall printer market, including copy machines, continues to decline. One big shift analysts point to is the rise of digital documents, which makes printing on paper obsolete.
Still, HP would face tough competition from established players in the copy machine market like Xerox (XRX), Canon, and Toshiba. Lores countered that many of HP’s so-called channel resellers are looking forward to HP entering the copy machine market.
Many of these resellers, Lores said, create contracts with their customers for selling them multiple HP printers and copy machines from other vendors. Now, they can simply sell an all-HP printer package to their customers, which would reduce the need for the resellers to train their employees and service staff to sell and care for the products of multiple vendors, he explained.
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One of the reasons HP is announcing the new copy machines months ahead of its eventual release next year is to give its resellers enough time to be acquainted with the copiers, Lores said.
HP (HPQ) currently sells printers that have the ability to make multiple copies, but they don’t produce copies as quickly as the new machines nor in color like some of the new devices.
Besides copy machines, HP hopes that its recently announced 3D printers tailored for large industrial businesses will help revive its printing unit. However, one of HP’s 3D printer models will ship in late 2016 and the second will ship in 2017.
With both HP’s lineup of 3D printers and copy machines coming out either in late 2016 or 2017, it’s likely that the company’s printer business won’t get significant traction until the new products come to market.