WARNING! I am about to get on my soapbox!
Having recently return-ed from Drupa, where the printing industry gathers for its global Olympics every four years, I had a strange sort of déjà vu (or premonition) type of experience.
Remember 1984? Not the book, but the year Apple stormed the world with the breakthrough Macintosh and its PostScript printer? Desktop publishing heralded disruptive change for the printing industry and started a shift that has turned into a virtual avalanche today. The avalanche gained steam as the Internet became ubiquitous through the 1990s.
While we can blame the economic downturn at the beginning of this century for some of our industry’s woes, it is generally agreed that the Internet took desktop publishing to the next level, putting even more power in the hands of the content owners, and moving capability and control upstream.
Show and Tell, Then Sell
Drupa, more than any other show, is about trends more than it is about products. Suppliers to the industry take advantage of this global gathering to show their wares, but, perhaps even more importantly, to talk about their strategies for the future. This Drupa was no exception. And, in fact, it was perhaps more so with the expanded Drupa “innovation parc” that featured more than 100 companies, many of whom were small and would otherwise have been unable to participate in this costly two-week event.
A speaker at one of the press conferences mentioned that 2000 was considered the digital Drupa; 2004 was considered the workflow Drupa; and 2008 was indeed the ink-jet Drupa. Of course, this supplier was unveiling some significant ink-jet announcements, so there may have been some bias! But if you think about it, from a trends perspective, 1995 was the digital Drupa. That’s when production color digital devices really began to gain steam; by 2000, digital was already here.