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Friday, January 16, 2009

Canon and HP: A Response to Ricoh/IKON?

Are Canon and HP a good mix?

"Chatter" or the volume of transmitted communications, increases as a terrorist act nears - in our industry, the opposite occurs - silence before the storm.

I haven't heard a peep regarding ANY sort of arrangement or agreement between HP and Canon - and I have heard even less about Edgeline (isn't that like the Hawk back in 03?).

So we ask, what is going on?

Last year, I was able to review the Gartner's Magic Quadrant report.

Buried in the narrative are the strengths and weaknesses of Canon and HP.

The following is from Gartner:



* Canon has a solid office product portfolio in MFPs and printers, in A3 and A4 engines, and in monochrome and color that can satisfy the most discriminating needs of customers.

* Manufacturing strength and R&D investments have provided the company with a wide range of products to fit most customer needs. Canon's engineering and portfolio strengths (both monochrome and color) have kept the company at the top of the worldwide laser MFP market share for well over a decade.

* Canon supplies HP with enough LaserJet engines to make it the No. 1 provider of laser printing technology worldwide.

* Canon's leadership team has prudently led a well-financed organization with over $10 billion (cash on hand) to invest in growing its MFP/printing business.


* Canon's largest distributor for its line of office and light-production products, IKON Office Solutions, was recently acquired by Ricoh, Canon's chief rival. In 2007, 30% to 40% of Canon's U.S. office/central reprographics department (CRD) shipments were distributed through IKON. This has caused a profound disruption in Canon's channel and has forced the provider to start investing heavily to realign its channel strategy.

* The company has also seen additional cracks in its distribution channel as Danka Office Imaging and GIS, both of which sold tens of millions of dollars of Canon products, were also acquired within the past 18 months.

* It has lost its leadership in the growing SMFP (open-architected MFP platform) market that it created more than five years ago.

* In recent months, smaller, providers have outperformed Canon in closing large deals — especially in the light-production and midproduction color space.



* HP is the undisputed leader in single-function page printers (with 53% of the worldwide market share) and has also eclipsed Canon for the most overall MFP placements (17.1% worldwide market share) in the four quarters we examined (the last two quarters of 2007 and the first two quarters of 2008).

* Like other leaders, HP has a global reach and a broad set of customer types that use both printers and MFPs in monochrome and color.

* Perhaps HP's greatest strength is its strong relationships with IT organizations and decision makers. As document management technology accelerates on MFPs, HP, with its HP Open Extensibility Platform, will be in an excellent position to leverage its IT connections to incorporate paper-based and other documents into enterprise and other software applications that make customers' processes more efficient.


* HP customers tend to be leveraged from its IT connections and are usually buyers of mostly A4-centric MFPs with limited page volumes.

* HP's capabilities in A3 are limited to a couple of LaserJet products and the Edgeline (8050/8060) series of inkjet MFPs. This portfolio is not broad enough to meet the needs of the widest range of Gartner customers.
* HP's market share leadership with LaserJet — for which Canon manufactures the engines — could be undermined if Canon, as part of its recent strategic changes, decides to modify its contract with HP and begins to sell its engines under its own label through Canon Business Solutions.

Death of The Copier Analysis -

The last two points, emphasized in red, allude to some of the puzzle: HP's narrow portfolio of A3 and Canon's ability to undermine HP by selling laser engines under its own label through CBS.

There are many possible scenarios, but here are some of my guesses:

#1 - An agreement between HP and Canon allowing HP to resell a few Canon copier systems. This is a natural fit filling the holes in the product line to be filled with proven Canon hardware.

Perhaps these re-labeled Canon units would ship with HP JetDirect internal print servers and DSS.

The more troublesome part of this idea is the ability or lack of ability of HP's existing high-end, IPG VARs to service a real, honest copier, let a lone HP direct service capabilities.

One is painfully reminded of the "Hawk" - HP 9055's and 65's sold primarily through IKON. These were 55 and 65 page per minute Konica machines with DSS and JetDirect cards.

There are many reasons for the product's failure, too many to go into, but one lesson learned may be managing all the obstacles encountered when trying to work within an established copier sales model.

#2- HP acquires Canon Business Solutions.

This would be an acquisition of the North American Canon. HP would secure an
instant IPG channel; $75 million in revenues, 2400 employees, 40 locations. Instant MIF. Instant service network for copiers.

Enhanced multi-vendor, MPS capabilities. HP OPS VARs certify on certain Canon units and add to their product portfolio.

This scenario seems unlikely.

#3 - HP and Canon enter into a joint agreement, much like the Fuji/Xerox venture. HP

A quote from 2005 by Vyomesh Joshi, Executive vice president of the imaging and printing group, "The relationship with Canon is strong. It's a win-win for both of us, so we see tremendous benefit," (regarding the importance the 21-year partnership with Canon)"
#3.1 - HP and Canon form a "Sales Alliance"
Similar to the recently announced Ricoh/IBM arrangement; an alliance of sales forces.

In my opinion, which is more like guess work in the dark, the first alternative seems more plausible - and the most likely is that nothing will happen. HP will stay the course and grow their channel organically.

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Greg Walters, Incorporated