Monday, December 8, 2008

HP Edgeline One Year Later - From SViP to OPS

The new HP, ex-Xerox technician with 19 years experience and the seasoned selling professional stand shoulder to shoulder staring down at the color, VGA, user panel. Each with the same thought, but neither wanting to say it out loud. The machine before them represents years of research and nearly 1 billion dollars in development costs.

Finally, and predictably, the sales executive turns to the technician and says, "You know what? This ain't a copier."

Since it's release in April of 2007, HP's CM8050/60 has slowly started making waves - however, the seas of the Copier Industry are at 20 feet swells. So much attention given to mergers and acquisitions and financial bail outs that any "ripple" contributed by Edgeline is lost.

To be fair, HPs goals were overly aggressive. To be brutal, HP underestimated their position in the market and the influence of all those perennially content, HP-Centric, Information Technology Directors. And to be just down right nasty, HP didn't survey the selling environment of the everyday copier transaction.

Just because your the biggest, and you product design is based on solid, real world data and you put your pretty, blue logo on it, doesn't mean customers will automatically buy it - There is no "Field of Dreams".

Into the Belly of The Beast - Copier Sales

Have you ever met anyone who likes their copier sales person?

Say what you like, the copier sales person is one of the most tenacious and stubborn persons in the world. He will maneuver, tact, approach and re-approach until the deal is his or the water is so murky his competition is spitting mud for 36 months.

It's a tough racket. And I do mean racket.
  • The copier folks know how to position cost per copy
  • They know how to sell not only the benefits of leasing but also the benefits of PURCHASING.
  • Thirty six, 48 or 60 months all can have benefits
  • "Spifs", promos, discounts, end of month, end of quarter, end of year pricing - file under mundane
  • Leasing, FMV, dollar out, 1-3 month deferred, extra points - yawn
  • Bundled service agreements or separate? Average Up time, no problem. Mean time between failure; machine to technician ratios; Response times vs resolution time, in our sleep
That's the copier world.

A world of ever changing product, hundreds of models, thousands of sales people and millions of pre-trained, indoctrinated customers.

What's the IT Service Provider world?

Words from the HP/IT service provider channel - "I can get you the best price,because I have already registered you (with HP/CISCO/manufacture de jour) many do you need and would you like delivery on Friday or Monday?..."

Some of the statements heard "around the water cooler" and at various seminars, conferences, etc.:
  • Leasing - "...don't you just divide the sale price by the number of months...?"
  • ost Per Copy - "...explain to me how this works, again...? We DON'T invoice them for toner?...but isn't that how we make our margin, on toner?..."
  • Billing- "...wait, our clients are going to receive TWO invoices from us each month? and we bill for "clicks"...what the heck is a "click"??!!"
  • "Meter Reads - "... how do we know how much to bill them?..."

  • "Service Response Time - " hour!?...and four hours on site!...that's impossible. Nobody can do that, nobody..."
  • Total Cost of Ownership - "...there is more than just price? What do you mean, "distributed labor rate and cost per square foot...?"
  • Margin - "32 points!!! I don't treat my customers like that, they won't pay over 7%, max."
  • Misc. - "...what in the world is a MIL?"
From the copier dealer to the MFP manufacturer -
  • "your price is too high on supplies..."
  • "why don't you have 3-hole punch?"
  • "your price is too high..."
  • "why is it so difficult to get a "front end" discount structure"
  • "what do you mean, "explain to me how leasing works?"
  • "what do you mean, 'explain to me how CPC works?'"
  • "your machine doesn't have job build?"
So What?-

In one of my entries, I mention how HP is "above the Fray...". They chose not to purchase IKON and chose to march to a different drum. This I still believe, but it may be more akin to "tunnel vision" than Global Vision.

No matter how narrow or focused the vision, it still includes Edgeline and for years to come. For all the great technology, we are still simply talking about a device that puts "marks on paper" - no magic. In an universal sense, devices in this space, put marks on paper. They are all the same.

So, one year into this odyssey, a year that started off focusing on the machine, ends with a whimper but still with a vision. The next year may not be as dynamic as the past, but I am sure there will be more people looking down at machines and saying, "You know what? This ain't a copier- it's more."

"You can go your own way. Go your own way. You an call it Another lonely day...Go your own way"- Fleetwood Mac

- Edgeline -


  1. I had alot of fun reading this, I for one beleive the next "edgeline" will be more competitve, have more features and will truly be a marvel of technology. However, Memjet is on the horizon and this technology makes "edgeline" look prehistoric. We'll have to see where the marbles will fall. Hey...... there's alot of people who like me out there and I sell Digital Multifunctional Copiers!!!!!

  2. Art!

    Thanks for the comment - and yes, there are good copier sales people out there.

    You are one of them.

  3. Innerestin'stuff...I haven't seen too much of the edgeline out there...when I did see it, that big round about that the paper travels on makes me kinda nervous...I have seen a number of the Riso 5500's out there and they may not produce graphic like quality they do have a pretty impressive, simple, machine...I am interested in what memjet is (google). "Hey...... there's alot of people who like me out there and I sell Digital Multifunctional Copiers!!!!!"...I noticed that you didn' say "customers"...your Mom doesn't kidding..Mom counts.

  4. Anonymous, LOL!!

    Yes, MOMs COUNT!

    And yes, lots of copier sales people are liked - I like em.

    That big "round about" thing, we call a cylinder, not a drum...and yes, it is scary - I love to demo with the doors open, all the lights and whizzing around paper...the paper is held on by a vacuum...

    Everyone is all "hyped" up about MemJet - but, the technology has been "viable" for over a year now. And if it is as good as it looks, why hasn't anyone picked it up?

    I admit, the YouTube examples are stunning - but again, they were stunning 13 months ago.

    And yes, Edgeline has not "lit the world on fire" - plenty of reasons, but still, the battle continues...

    Thank you for your comment and keep coming back...