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Monday, January 12, 2009

"Form Follows Function": Is Samsung Positioned in HP's Blind Spot?

"You can have any color you like, as long as it's black..." - Henry Ford

Jim Lyons picked up on Samsung and the possibility of them nudging into the office MFP market as reflected in an article over at Business Week, Samsung:Rethining the Printer Business, by Cliff Edwards.

Additionally, Robert Sethre from the Woodford Group goes on to analyze the article in his contribution at GLG, The Expert Network.

In the past 60 days, I have heard more about Samsung as a printing/MFP provider, than I have in the last 20 years.

First off, Samsung is well known for its line of consumer electronics especially for their attractive and sleek design of everyday, mundane household appliances.

The thought, and the practice, can be seen in the above laser printer. The design is completely different from any other output device. "Lacquer" finisher, touch controls interesting shape.

And as Jim poses in his article, what if Samsung applied this style to "higher end departmental printers". I have often wondered who decided office machines needed to be drab and unattractive - disengaging.

From the "big green" Oce's, the "blue hooded Xerox's", the Ricoh/Canon sorta-beige and the battleship grey of Konica/Minolta and HP - couldn't we just spray paint some flames on the side?

The closest thing to an exciting, eye-catching application is from Panasonic with their colorful, color MFPs. Is that like coffee flavored coffee? (ADULT LINK)

Though one could make the argument that the Panasonic resembles the Daleks on Dr. Who, and I have yet to see one in the field. I imagine a real estate office or small advertising agency may find the physical color of the unit part of their buying criteria.

Samsung printer designer Bong Uk Lim is promoting something new- a printer that doesn't look like one.

"Most companies ask people to adapt to the product instead of the other way around," Lim says. "As you see with Apple, design is more important than ever before for most products. The same can be made true for printers."

Regardless, is Samsung looking to step into the office printing niche?

Samsung is the second largest manufacturer of laser printers in the world - next to that "other" company - but manufacturing prowess may not prevent them from "stepping into it" when they take on HP, Canon, Ricoh/IKON, et el.

And in typical, HP, battleship gray style, upon hearing of a possible Samsung insurgence, David Murphy, head of HP's LaserJet imaging business, says most of the industry's profits come from selling to businesses ...

"For them, it's about the whole value proposition of having a product that does the tasks you want it to,then, form follows function."

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