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McIlroy--The (Hidden) Meaning of DRUPA

August 2000
There are two major schools of thought that have formed opinions about what happened at DRUPA 2000, held in Dusseldorf, Germany, last May. One theory has it that there were hundreds of new product announcements, some of them very important. The other school says that there were hundreds of new product announcements, none of them of any key significance to the future of printing and publishing. Which one is right?

Part of what makes it so difficult to interpret the impact of DRUPA is the sheer scale of the event. Held only once every four or five years, the show is enormous by North American standards. More than 413,000 visitors came to the Dusseldorf fairgrounds to take in DRUPA 2000, visiting stands from 1,957 exhibitors. The nearly two thousand exhibitors must have generated 3,000 to 4,000 new product announcements at the show. Surely some of them were important?

Well, you decide. Here's the first eight headlines pulled from the official May 26th roster of product announcements:

  • ECRM Imaging Systems drives price-value leadership with eight-up thermal platesetter for $179,500;

  • Toshiba FC 22 and FC 15 Color Manager—the efficient production machines for the office;

  • Adobe and the future of FrameMaker;

  • Tresu Printer 150;

  • Excimer inter-unit and end-of-the-press dryer for sheetfed offset presses;

  • New Roland 700: versatile and successful;

  • New Lithoman: highest run elasticity in long-grain and short-grain format; and

  • Kompac V automatic dampening system.


Hmm. There's nothing dramatic or earth-shattering in that list, prob-ably not even if you're the vendor making the announcement. You might suspect that I chose eight real dull ones just to throw you off the scent. I'm afraid not. These announcements pretty much represent the tone of what was trumpeted throughout the show.

Oh, sure, there was hoopla. And companies like Xerox trying to make their presence at DRUPA seem more significant than it was. But, in the end, there was a real dearth of announcements or technology demonstrations that made you rethink where our business might be going.

After the show, several vendors announced record sales from DRUPA. But that's not surprising. Most hardware vendors suffer a sales drought in the months prior to the event, as savvy customers delay purchases, knowing that DRUPA will feature product updates and pricing specials.

Some analysts and vendors say that the big news at DRUPA was in digital printing. Benny Landa, president and CEO of Indigo, described DRUPA 2000 as "the digital printing Olympics." But digital printing was big news at DRUPA 1995. Is it still big news five years later?
 

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