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Sat 11 Oct 2008 04:00 AM

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The cost of printing

John Ross, general manager, Middle East, India, North East Africa, OKI Printing Solutions, explains why consumers should pay more attention to Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

John Ross, general manager, Middle East, India, North East Africa, OKI Printing Solutions, explains why consumers should pay more attention to Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

How would you describe your position in the Middle East printer market?

Since OKI opened its Middle East office in November 2005, the company has seen strong expansion of its market share in the fast-growing markets of the Middle East. Figures from market analyst and research house IDC show that OKI has built its regional share to become the clear market challenger in a number of regional colour printing markets.

OKI has performed well and has been very successful over the past few years here in the Middle East, which has been capped with the phenomenal 58% market growth in the region from calendar year 2006 to 2007.

We are among the top manufacturers of the Dot Matrix printers and IDC numbers for Q2 2008 shows that OKI has retained second ranking in the business professional colour laser printer market and achieved 12% market share in a market which grew by 10% on the same period in 2007.

What strategy are you focusing on at the moment?

At OKI, we don't sell boxes we sell integrated printing solutions, so our strategy continues to focus on educating our audience on how to boost their business efficiencies by deploying the right printing solutions and through the correct usage of colours.

We believe that this can be achieved by focusing on our regional and local channel partners and providing them with the needed tools of training and support to deliver best practices to the end user.

What should consumers focus on when buying any kind of printer device?

There are several things that consumers should consider before buying any printer.

The first thing they should consider is TCO (total cost of ownership); they have to consider all running costs before buying a printer for example: consumables (Toner, Image drum, fusing units, etc.), media plus the initial cost of buying the machine.The speed of a printer is very important so when buying one, consumers should consider how fast it is and whether this speed is good enough and suitable for their business' needs.

Also the ability to manage and control the printer could be a vital issue for some consumers, so they should make sure the tools required for that are available as well as networkability.

Finally and depending on the type of business, consumers should look for printers that are able to print on irregular media like CD labels, business card media, heavy weight media etc.

What are the emerging trends this year?

We expect eco-friendly products to become more popular as consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious about green issues. Green technology has become an essential part of our lives as the consumers' awareness of green issues has tremendously grown.

Governments and various environmental groups have been addressing the issue of global warming and how to mitigate it and they have taken the initiative to educate the public of green issues and raise the awareness of how our actions and choices affects the environment around us.

Now you will find consumers keen to have eco-friendly products. When it comes to the printing industry consumers are looking for printers with lower consumption of power and duplex printing options as it saves on the usage of paper.

In addition, fast and flexible printers will always be highly demanded, as time is a vital issue and customers are looking for printers that can answer all their business printing needs without compromising the level of quality or the speed.

Networked devices have shown growth as it stands for a more cost efficient device than multiple stand-alone products. Also multi function devices, particularly colour toner based products, are on the growing scale as a latest research by Gartner showed that the MFP market in EMEA has witnessed an increase of 2.2% in the first half of 2008.Colour printers as well have shown noticeable growth as customers are becoming more aware of how to utilise a high quality colour printer and how it can be cost effective and drives in-house printing rather than outsourcing.

How is the Middle East printer market evolving?

The market is constantly changing and growing due to the progressive development in technology and the changes in the market segments as in the case of the SMB rise. A quick look at the market would reveal several changes such as the growth of multi function devices, the phasing out of inkjet technology, customers' steady realisation that networked devices are more cost efficient than multiple stand alone devices, the growth of colour, the need for faster and more flexible printing devices, and the need to introduce add-on solutions to consumers.

All of these are various components of the evolution of the printing business.

How are technologies expected to change in the coming year?

As many companies are looking into providing more solutions to their customers we can surely expect more software add-ons being incorporated in the box as standard.

 This is something that we have been doing at OKI for about 10 years, through our network management tools, print control and templates management tools.

However, now we can expect applications for such purposes as tickets, bar codes, signboards etc. for the coming years as well.

There will be more concentration on colourfulness, high picture quality, low cost, small footprint especially with the rise of SMB market where budget and space are premium issues and with more and more companies looking into in-house printing.

What advice would you give The Advisor readers to ensure they get the most out of their printer?

There are a number of points consumers should consider:

• Consider the price and yield of consumables beside the initial buying price.

• If you are looking for a business printer, look for a network printer, then look if there are soft tools to manage it and whether these tools are free or not and how easy they are to use.

• Look at what kind of media delivers the best quality of printing and whether the printer - such as an inkjet printer - requires a special kind of media to get better results (media can be very expensive).

Usually colour toner base can deliver very good quality when printing on regular office paper.

• Desktop space is sometimes considered to be an issue especially for small cluttered offices; an MFP would save an extra space for a scanner and another for a copier machine.

A networkedMFP would clear up a number of desks by connecting a number of users to one reliable machine.

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