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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Copier Model is Sinking


Print volumes are down, businesses continue to shed devices, MpS providers are evolving from marks on paper to IT services and what do our OEMs do?

They release more than 20 'new' devices, each; fighting for every, last print, click, and cartridge.

In the end.

They're jostling for deckchairs nearest the pool - on the Titanic. What's worse, they expect you to fight with them - never mind that gushing sound.

"Better" toner, special ink, embedded keyboards, 'intuitive' user interfaces, digital on-ramps, and document management software (tied to an equipment quota) will not save the vessel - 'rebates/kickbacks and special hardware pricing is and always have been a 30-day approach.  Nothing can stop the water - people will not print as much as they once had.
There are no new "clicks."

It's refusing to believe in icebergs after being gouged from bow to stern.

But a few of us know. The Signs have been there, the writing was on the wall, and icebergs have been easy to spot.

We've paid attention to the quarterly earnings reports, and understood the consolidation of our industry is now the disintegration of companies:
  • Paper plants have long shut down.
  • HP split in two; too big to fail?
  • Lexmark consolidated, then sold.
  • Xerox fading; too big to purchase?
  • Dealers coagulate and then sell to investment groups.
  • Leveraged toner remanufactures closing all watertight doors, polishing the brass, then hoisting the "For Sale" sign - as a whole or in pieces.
  • Who knows the truth with the offshore OEMs, they're steaming off into the fog, oblivious and happy.
Do not believe the tired old lines of "print is not dead".  It's the crew's way of not spreading panic.  Phrases like, "...its business as usual...", "...we see this merger as a way to better serve our customers...", "...we're excited about the opportunity to inject cash into new ideas..." are delivered to placate and numb you to the truth - "this ship will sink".

Recognize that your OEM wants more shelf space and will wrap their machines in solutions, apps, rebates, or warm, apple pie to get you to place units.

This Gregism is as true today as it was back in 2007,
"On the first of the month we sell solutions, after the 15th, we move machines."
This is a losing argument.  Today's technology prospect understands "the cheapest image is the one you never print".

We've got lifeboats, but you remember about the lifeboats, don't you? There are only so many.

Lifeboat One - Sell out. If you can, do it.

Lifeboat Two - Stay and swim. Good luck, Jack.  It took nearly a decade before Kodak went away, maybe you'll have the same luck.

Lifeboat Three - Find your way and survive to thrive. If you can sell copiers, you can sell anything. MpS practitioners can apply the same skills; assess, analyze, recommend and implement - ANY 'As A Service' offering.

"As a service" offerings are materializing faster than print is dying.  Now is the time to look beyond the assessment, quota, clicks, billing scheme, and the old copier model.

But hurry, there's water over the bulkheads, it's only a matter of time.



"The Ship Will Sink"

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  1. Good tips for sinking ships. Ok folks, try to stay calm and listen to the captain's directions. Also keep an eye out for objects that could be sliding around. The last thing you want is to be near evacuation and get plowed by a printer. Good piece, thanks Captain Greg.

  2. I'm a 22 year veteran of the game. I've seen the writing on the wall for years. Figures this would happen right when the King of the industry: Canon figures out how to build their best units ever and soon no one will care. So what do I do know? Jump out or ride it out...One thing is for sure: IF YOU CAN SELL COPIERS YOU CAN SELL ANYTHING. I'll parlay that into my next career!

    1. Metal - love the SN.

      Yup. There is a big world out there, full of opportunity.

      Thanks for reading.


  3. There will always be a place for hard copy/print, but it will be getting significantly smaller every year from here on out... I was in the printer/MFD world for 18 years... It's not even possible to compactly state how much has changed since I started. I guess telling you that I made 24,000 dollars worth of commission on FAX MACHINE SALES ALONE in 1999 (because of Y2K concerns) says something! That was in addition to a lot of commission on MFD's and traditional copiers back then too. Anyway... this trend is gonna continue. That's why I am now a Real Estate Broker instead.

  4. Not sure I can believe in the "if you can sell copiers you can sell anything" line. From my point of view, the higher-ups are old men riding their way out to retirement who can't and won't try to sell anything else because they don't know how and don't want to rock the boat. They'll cling on to their old-fashioned business models till the day they retire and screw the business they leave behind.

    1. Anon - accurate view, although I've observed the 'old-men' phenomena for decades; there are always 'old-men' driving the status quo.

      I absolutely believe the "copier sales" statement, seen it.

  5. This is hilarious. "THE SKY IS FALLING, THE SKY IS FALLING". I remember this back in 2008 when I first started in Manhattan. It was the end of the universe. Well, for the old guys who were used to sitting back and orders kicking in without any real work being done. They were also leaving the industry, because it was the end of the world. Probably bought a Cabin in the woods, stocked up on guns, MREs, and ammo waiting for the apocalypse.
    But for a new guy in Manhattan, it meant opportunity. Then, in 2010 I was promoted to the Print/Publishing Vertical Market. BUT THE SKY WAS FALLING!!! There was even a website dedicated to updating what publication was going out of business. I paid everyone no mind, I just got to work. And I made a lot of money. At the end of the year 87% of quota with a $50k a month quota, almost all new placements.
    And now I'm hearing it again. THE SKY IS FALLING. So I'll do as I always do. Work hard, pick up clients, and make money doing it.

  6. Not sure about the USA, but donwunder, Printer/MFP unit sales have stabilized after 2 years of serious decline. In general, companies have been consolidating printers for years now, and they have probably reached the base line minimum number of devices required to function. Print Volumes however, I’m sure will continue to decline, but at a much lower rate now that unit sales have stabilized. I suppose the (yearning to be answered) question is "How much further will print volumes fall"

  7. Still relevant after all these years

  8. Honestly, this industry needs to change or die. Nobody prints anymore if they can avoid it. I have never witnessed so much backward aged thinking and unrealistic expectations from this industry as a whole.

    Sure collect the money while you can but 10-15 years tops we will be left with a few big players, all the mom and pop shops gone, and the remaining players trying to compete with a major service offering providers such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. The OEMS will be left adapting and bleeding people and money trying to stay relevant. Change in 2020 or Get out.

    1. Painful observation, yet validating to the name of this blog...thanks for contributing!


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