Color Laser Printers Bring Brighter Shade of Dell

The company prepares to launch its first three color laser units, aimed at SMBs and larger enterprises.

Pressing on with its rebranded printer strategy, Dell Inc. next month will expand its arsenal of machines with the launch of its first color laser units.

Dell is preparing three color laser printers for the business market—the 3000CN and 3100CN for SMBs (small and midsize businesses) and the 5100CN, which is aimed at large enterprises—according to sources familiar with the companys plans.

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Dell officials would not comment on the launch, but the Round Rock, Texas, company had previously promised it would produce color laser printers by years end.

Fueled in part by strong printer business results, Dell saw a 31 percent rise in second-quarter revenues from software and peripherals, officials said. Dell CEO Kevin Rollins predicted earlier this month that the vendor will sell 5 million units this year.

That figure pales in comparison with the 10 million printers HP shipped in the last quarter alone. HPs executive vice president of imaging and printing, Vyomesh Joshi, said he is unfazed by Dells printer moves.

"The business model here is different from the PC model," Joshi told eWEEK earlier this summer. "In the PC model, you have Intel [Corp.] and Microsoft [Corp.] innovating, and their technology and innovation is accessible to all vendors. There is no equivalent on the printing side. So Dell has to rely on a partner," said Joshi. "Most of the market share they gain is at the cost of their partner, Lexmark [International Inc.]."

Joshi predicted the market for office color printing will grow from about $7 billion to $10 billion by 2006.

"We use color laser printers for various purposes in our labs, libraries, art classrooms and in kindergarten—where color is a really big piece of the curriculum," said Mike Richez, director of technology for Long Beach Public Schools, in Long Beach, N.Y.

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Prior to using lasers from Lexmark, color printing was not really an option for the school system because ink-jet printers "were not sufficient in terms of speed or flexibility," said Richez.

For its part, Tokyo-based Canon Inc. next month will unveil a new color multifunction laser printer, the first priced at less than $1,000, said sources. Canon officials declined to comment.

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