Illusions of drupa 2012

After two weeks of rain and sunshine, sausage and spargel, more than a few alts and pils, far too much walking and standing, transportation that reminded me of Tokyo at rush hour, and having my BS detector turned up all the way, it’s good to be back home and try to put all drupa 2012 had to offer into some kind of perspective. All the big news has been well covered, so rather than say the same stuff as my colleagues, I’m just offering up my own thoughts on this latest love fest of print called drupa.

I’ll start where my drupa did, getting in late to the press conference of the ebullient and irrepressible showman Benny Landa and the rollout of Nanography. It’s what Landa envisions as the digital printing technology that will best live alongside offset and offer the best of both worlds for countless applications.

What was most interesting to me was that when I congratulated Benny on his latest efforts, his first question was not, “What do you think of the technology?” but rather “What do you think of the strategy?” It turns out, that question is one he asked of many others.

And I have to say the strategy is brilliant. It immediately addresses the loyalty factor—the fact that a Komori guy probably isn’t going to up and buy another make of press and is, at best, uncomfortable with any digital press vendor. Landa is licensing his Nanographic technology so his partners—which already include Heidelberg, Komori and manroland—can build their own versions of Nanographic presses while he provides the consumables, blankets, inks and various key parts. This approach dramatically scales the consumables as revenue model, as if an oil company sold cars and trucks and planes, as well as fuel.

Landa said he definitely plans to sell presses under the Landa brand name, but that he won’t sell a press that directly competes with systems sold by any of his licensees. Given that Landa Corp. plans to roll out six models within 18 or so months from now, it’s a little hard to see how he won’t be competing with his partners. But that loyalty thing may keep a Komori guy buying from the company he knows. And either way, Landa Corp. still does OK.

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