Xerox Corp. on Wednesday said it has entered the next phase of its ‘Color Everywhere’ strategy with the addition of its first-ever multi-function colour printer to its office line.

“We’re extending our office colour solid ink platform into a new category of multi-function systems,”

said Xerox chairman and CEO Anne Mulcahy in a live Webcast from San Francisco. “We intend to migrate it even further across our line. We’re also injecting colour into every aspect of our business, into every customer set that we serve — from the office to the print shop and into the world of value-added services.”

Based on Xerox’s patented ‘solid ink’ technology, the WorkCentre C2424 MFP can print at speeds of up to 24 pages per minute (ppm) in colour and in black and white, according to the company. The C2424, which will be available in the next couple of weeks, incorporates more than 80 solid ink patents with another 23 patents pending.

Solid ink technology uses solid, polymer-based ink instead of powdered toner. The platform allows Xerox to offer its customers a low-priced product with the quality and speed of higher-priced equipment and produces less waste than traditional colour laser cartridges, execs said. In January 2004, Xerox announced the Phaser 8400 colour, which is also based on solid ink technology. Out of 40 new products launched last year, one-third, like the 8400 were colour, according to Xerox.

Targeted at small and medium-businesses, the C2424 starts at an estimated retail price of $3,965 in Canada.

“Today as businesses focus more on the information side of the IT equation, colour is a path to gaining that advantage,” she said. “It’s a critical way to add value and intelligence to documents of every single time. It’s something we’re calling colour sense.”

The C2424 also marks the first colour MFP to be offered through value-added resellers as well as other Xerox channels including agents, dealers and direct sales reps, the Xerox Web site and telecentres.

Up here, Xerox Canada was adding some colour of its own to city councillors in Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. As part of its “Colour for Charity” campaign, Xerox Canada painted the hair of Calgary alderman Ric McIver in blue, Toronto councillor Olivia Chow in multi-colour, and Montreal councillor Christine Poulin in green. The campaign, which was done in conjunction with the announcement, aims to raise awareness of using colour in the workplace.

Since 2001, Xerox colour revenue has increased from 16 to 21 per cent — a jump that’s reflected in the Canadian printer market.

Standalone colour laser printers accounted for 53 per cent of unit shipments last year in Canada, according to research firm IDC Canada. Xerox captured 11 per cent of that market share in 2004 — up from nine per cent in 2003. (All numbers based on unit shipments.)

“Xerox seems to have improved their standing,” said George Bulat, director of data driven products at IDC Canada. Bulat, however, added that Xerox is still behind vendors like Hewlett-Packard Co., which leads the market at 51 per cent share.

Four years ago, Xerox announced its “Color Everywhere” strategy. In phase one, Xerox acquired Tektronics Printing Division for US$1 billion, giving it the solid ink technology platform — a more affordable alternative to colour laser printing.

“We’re on track to make the majority of our products colour-enabled even as we continue to serve the needs of our monochrome customers,” said Mulcahy. “Today we’re here to unveil phase two of the colour everywhere strategy — to take it to the next level with a renewed commitment that is as strong as the one we made four years ago.”

Last year Xerox and Fuji Xerox Co. Ltd. invested US$1.5 billion in research and development — two-thirds of which went to colour. The two have also earned more than 2,700 colour patents in the last several years, Mulcahy added.

Also in the first phase, Xerox launched the US $1 billion high end colour platform with iGen3 digital production colour press. Earlier this month, Xerox announced the iGen3 110 Digital Production Press, which it claims prints 10 to 20 per cent faster than previous versions.

The company also announced three other multi-function systems as part of Wednesday’s launch. These include the CopyCentre C118 black and white copier and the WorkCentre M118 and M118i black and white basic MFP.

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