InfoPrint Solutions Company, formerly IBMs Printing Systems division but soon to be owned by Ricoh, announced recently that it was ready for business.
Ricoh is buying IBMs Printing Systems division over the course of three years, an arrangement which gives Ricoh access to IBMs production printing software and provides Ricoh a way to market their MFPs (multifunctional products) and printer-based products. Under the terms of the agreement, Ricoh will own 51 percent of the joint company and IBM will own the remaining 49 percent.
"Our focus is to provide solutions that focus on quality of output and total cost of operations that improves a customers environment whether it be an office or commercial environment," said Bob Kilcullen, senior vice president and general manager at the Boulder, Colo.-based InfoPrint Solutions.
Kilcullen pointed out that although IBM had been involved with the printing industry for a number of years, it was not their main focus.
"It was a question of focus as IBM has been involved with the printing industry for a number of years, but it was not their main stream of activity," Kilcullen said. "Printing is the core business for Ricoh so it made a lot of sense to move the printing business to Ricoh."
According to Susan Lyon, research director of Hardcopy Peripherals and Document Solutions at the Framingham, Mass.-based technology research firm IDC, the IBM-Ricoh arrangement has two main benefits for Ricoh.
"[Ricoh] now has access to the services and solutions expertise that will especially be attractive to IT decision makers in all types of enterprises," she said, "as well as access to future transaction print high-speed color products and workflow solutions that IBM was developing with partners and internally."
Since InfoPrint Solutions inception, the company has released a number of new products including the IP5000 high-speed, full-color offering for the production environment that produces more than 900 full-color images per minute as well as a new family of light production cut sheet products ranging from 90 to 135 images per minute.
"We want to deliver broader solutions to the marketplace and we are in a position to extend in the print business," Kilcullen said.
"With InfoPrint Solutions, Ricoh will have added a strong product pipeline of production equipment and related services and workflow solutions," Lyon said. "It will be great for the industry that there is a player with a keener focus on the printing industry. As in any industry, stronger players make the marketplace stronger."
For printer market competitors, the formation of InfoPrint Solutions Company will force them to focus more on their customers and to try and find ways to stay afloat in the printer industry.
"With a company that has a strong focus on growing in the production printing space, the other players will have to look at the market more deeply and be ready for a stronger player," Lyon said. "The new company should make competitors such as Xerox, Kodak and Oce sharpen up their attention and focus to their customers, especially those in the transaction print environment."