Buying a Digital Press (Now)? -- Waldman
In pursuit of the file efficiency scenario might be HP (Hewlett-Packard) with its recent purchase of Indigo. An HP executive told me that they can accomplish what other players can't, in that they have both a strong corporate presence and a sales force dedicated to the printing industry. Their concept (in a nutshell) is to work with the corporate customer in simplifying the process of creating color files that can be profiled to print smoothly and accurately on an Indigo press owned by one of their printers.
More Digital Players
On the surface it appears to be a good approach in that they can create a market and a process that, so far, printers have been unable to accomplish. This will be very interesting to watch. Remember, too, that there's another player that can play this game—Xerox, which is well represented in all market spaces. Also keep in mind that Xerox is "The Player" in on-demand printing and always deserves an intense look.
Speaking of Xerox, the promise of the future might be its new DocuColor iGen3 that was shown at PRINT 01, but won't be available until next spring. All I saw was a demonstration but, if what they say is true, this could be a step in the right direction. It is expensive; the guess is that it will sell for about $500M. But this includes in-line finishing, the ability to mix stocks of different weights, finishes and textures on-the-fly, and real productivity. Most important is the promise of cheaper disposables, although no one could give me numbers.
This is not meant to be a review, so I left a lot out. However, I do want to mention a very exciting piece of equipment from Océ. I believe that one of the most important market opportunities for digital printing is short run, multi-page products, particularly bound books or manuals.