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The Road Map

(March 2008) posted on Sat Mar 10, 2007

What does the digital-imaging marketplace have in store for printers in 2008? Read on to find out what you may see in the coming year.

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By Tim Greene

There have been several big consolidating actions in 2007 that we think will lead to some important benefits to end users. The three actions that have the biggest potential are HP’s acquisitions of ColorSpan and NUR, EFI’s taking a piece of Raster Printers, and the deal between Gandinnovations and TA Associates, the venture-capital company.

To me, HP’s acquisitions of ColorSpan and NUR are really important because these two companies both had developed leadership positions in the market segments they served. But I believe they were limited by access to the capital they needed to simultaneously support their installed base, grow their manufacturing capacity, and research and develop new products. I think HP is taking the long view by making these acquisitions instead of striking private-label deals with these manufacturers (or a supplier just like them) to fill out a wideformat UV-curable-inkjet portfolio.

For EFI, obtaining a piece of Raster Printers Inc. is most likely a portfolio filler since Raster plays only at the low end of the UV-curable-inkjet market. But the deal should give Raster the additional capital to continue to develop new products. Along the same lines, Gandinnovations has received an investment from TA Associates and struck a deal with CIT Group to offer financing of its high-end wide-format printers. These deals indicate that there is very strong potential in the UV-curable- inkjet market, of course, but they also should allow new products and easier access to those products, both of which should benefit end users.

Looking forward, I would say that even though there has been some consolidation already, there are still more than 30 manufacturers of wide-format UV-curable inkjet printers. With the combined HP-NUR-ColorSpan and EFI-Raster Printers and a stronger Gandinnovations, it seems that some of the other companies would be better off pooling their resources to compete against these big, strong market leaders. This is especially true because the back-end revenue stream—ink—is also under pressure by third-party ink manufacturers. InfoTrends believes some of these independent companies are likely to be acquired or merge with others to position themselves to compete in a market that is red-hot and already very competitive from a manufacturing standpoint.


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