SAN FRANCISCO – HP plans to boost its enterprise imaging and printing business by increasing the size of its sales force, introducing new ink-based printing technology called Edgeline and rolling out its largest lineup of multifunction printers.

It also plans to build out managed printing services, said Vyomesh Joshi, executive vice-president of HP’s Imaging & Printing Group, in a keynote at HP’s recent Enterprise Imaging and Printing Press and Analyst Conference.

This is part of HP’s strategy, which began three years ago, to “disrupt the copier market,” said Joshi. This includes improving workflow through content management and managing the environment through a pay-per-use model.

This comes as a result of customer feedback on printing pain points. Customers are dealing with “information anxiety,” due to an information overload that creates complexity in a world where applications are more advanced than ever. “How do we manage our environments and how do we improve the workflow?” said Joshi.

Part of this go-to-market strategy, however, is limited by a lawsuit by Lexmark against Bruce Dahlgren, senior vice-president of the global enterprise business with HP’s Imaging & Printing Group. Dahlgren left Lexmark nine months ago to join HP. As a result of the lawsuit, HP’s go-to-market strategy is limited to outside of North America.

But Lloyd Bryant, vice-president and general manager of the Imaging and Printing Group for HP (Canada) Co., says this won’t affect Canada much. “That is the model currently operating in Canada,” he said in an interview with Computing Canada. “The enterprise coverage model in Canada has a focus on key markets, such as financial and health care.” For Canada, the announcement means building on the go-to-market strategy it currently has in place.

The parent company plans to hire hundreds of skilled sales consultants around the world, dedicated to the company’s top 2,300 accounts. It also plans to tailor some of its 200 imaging and printing solutions for vertical markets in public and commercial sectors.

While MFPs aren’t eliminating the copier category, they’re giving copiers a lot of trouble, said Bradley Hughes, hardcopy peripherals research analyst with IDC Canada. A few years ago, there was a 50:50 breakdown between inkjet printers and MFPs. Today, MFPs have taken over two-thirds of the market, partially due to printer replacement cycles, as well as decreasing prices of MFPs.

“Expanding its portfolio is smart,” he said of HP’s MFP rollout, “because that’s where the market is going.” IDC is just starting research into the area of managed printing services, both in Canada and the U.S.

In spring 2007, HP will roll out its Edgeline technology to the enterprise market, which uses page-wide printheads to distribute ink in one pass (so only the paper moves, not the printheads). HP says this will allow the company to expand its printer business into markets such as retail, industrial and high-volume office printing.

Its new multifunction printers, now available in Canada, include the HP LaserJet M3035 MFP, a work team MFP that delivers 35 pages per minutes; the HP LaserJet M4345 MPF, the next-generation MFP in its class; the HP LaserJet M5035 MFP, a desktop wide-format MFP; and the HP LaserJet CM1015 MFP, a small colour laser MFP that uses ColorSphere toner.

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