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Samsung Starts Printer War Firing Blanks

Better known for their TV’s fridges and MP3 players Samsung is now attempting to be a jack of all trades by trying to take a stab at the business printer market by releasing 26 new printers a move that they brag will snare them the #1 printer position in the world by 2010.

In Australia the Company has limited distribution and is struggling to sign up solution providers in the SMB and “Enterprise” market where Company PR manager Jesse James said the printers will be sold.

When asked which market the Company aims to compete in she said “The enterprise market”.  When asked whether she meant the large enterprise market of over 1000 employers or the medium enterprise market of over 150 employees  she said “The enterprise market, I don’t need a lecture of where our market is we are simply after the enterprise market”.

However the new Samsung model range is more Soho and SMB market where competition is brutal and margins wafer thin except for consumables.

Currently the single printer and multi function printer market excluding A3 printers is worth about $300 million according to IDC. 26% of the total market is multi function printers with several vendors telling ChannelNews that the market for single printers is “dead”.

Epson Australia’s director of e-commerce and marketing, Michael Pleasants, said the decline of sales of single function printers had been steep, in the range of 35 to 40 per cent per year: “Indeed, when it comes to the office, single function is virtually dead.”

Hewlett Packard (HP) has retained its position as the market leader for printer, copier and multifunctional (MFP) product shipments to Australia. According to Gartner, the combined printer, copier and multifunctional product (MFP) shipments in Australia totalled 1.17 million units in the first half of 2007, an increase of 7.3 percent compared with the same period in 2006.

Globally Samsung’s printer business has been growing 20 percent in the mono-printer sector and 47 percent in that of colour-printer annually over the past few years. But the business still accounts for less than 5 percent of the company’s total sales. In Australia according to Gartner the Company has less than 5% of the market.

But the big mover and shaker was Hewlett-Packard which accounted for almost half of the total market share. HP shipped over a million units in 2007 an increase of 43.3.

In a direct stab at Hewlett Packard the market leader in printers both globally and in Australia Kwon Song, chief of Samsung Electronics’ Digital Printing Division B2B Marketing Group, said “We don’t think the industry leader Hewlett-Packard is ideally positioned with rich printer portfolios. We believe that by 2010 we will be #1 in the printer market”.

 The senior vice-president of digital media for Samsung, Jang Jae Lee, said that the inkjet market was of no interest because it represents “less than 30 percent of the market”.I

n response to Samsungs claims a senior HP offical said ” We welcome the challenge Samsung have tried before with printers and failed and the models they are offering while fast do chew up consumables which is good for Samsung but not necesarily good for the user. What they tend to do is deliver lower priced printers but high priced consumables. They have limited distribution and the only way that Samsung know how to grow market share in the IT space is to buy it. They failed in the notebook market and they will fail in the printer market as brands like ours, Canon, Lexmark or Xerox  have excellent distribution as well as a good range of products.”

Vendors also claim that a big problem for Samsung is that they have a limited dealer network with many printer solution providers refusing to take on the brand. “There big oppertunity is with mass market resellers like OfficeWorks, Harvey Norman or JB HiFi where the brand is known” said one competitor.

Among the new range is the MultiXpress 6555N a digital mono laser MFP capable of churning out 53 pages per minute (ppm). It comes with an 80GB built-in harddisk for network printing. The A4-MFP also has  a 7-inch color touchscreen for menu access.

Samsung has also introduced the MultiXpress C8380ND, a A4 digital MFP. Capable of printing both color and mono prints at 38ppm,  it is also network-ready and comes with an 80GB disk and a 7-inch color touchscreen.

The printers come with JScribe a technology that was  was co-developed with IBM and CCP, and is embedded within the printer. The software allows businesses to program Java applications.

They have also introduced the  CLP-310 series which Samsung claim is the world’s smallest and quietest color laser printer. This series of color laser printers take up a small footprint, measuring just 38.4cm along its width.

Samsung are also offering built-in duplex printing and “Tone Save” in some of its devices such as the ML-2850.

Also announced is SmarThru Office, a document management application that deciphers scanned text and sends it straight to a designated folder on the computer for easy retrieval or sharing on a network.

In an effort to entice journalists to write about the printers Samsung flew journalists to Bali.