EFI Acquires Xerox's FreeFlow Digital Front End (DFE) Business for $22 Million
Electronics For Imaging (EFI) and Xerox announced an agreement today for the sale of Xerox’s FreeFlow Print Server (FFPS) DFE business and all related intellectual property to EFI for $22 million, paid over an 18-month period. Under the terms of the deal, Xerox has committed to an annual minimum DFE purchase level. In addition, EFI will continue to produce and support FFPS in the short term so current Xerox digital production press users with FFPS do not experience interruptions in sales or service.
Xerox’s expertise and functionality from FFPS will be integrated with EFI’s best-of-breed Fiery product. Xerox customers will continue to benefit from EFI sales and technical field resources working side-by-side with their Xerox sales reps to offer a best-in-class solution. From a sales standpoint, Xerox digital press users will see zero change from today, noted John Henze, VP of Fiery marketing at EFI, during a one-on one press briefing with Printing Impressions. "Our very large Fiery sales force and technical representatives work very closely with all of our [digital press] partners. We'll still sell Fiery through the Xerox channel field force with the goal of offering whatever is best for the customer."
On the surface, the sales agreement appears to be a win-win for both companies. EFI, which has become the de facto gold standard for DFEs in the marketplace, will gain the existing base of FreeFlow users, and Xerox can now focus more on its higher-margin digital press hardware and consumables businesses — including growth markets such as production inkjet and packaging — and shed the R&D and product support expenses required for continued FreeFlow DFE development. Xerox already had an existing production and development relationship with the large, India-based conglomerate HCL Technologies, which will continue as part of a new agreement between EFI and HCL for FFPS development, quality assurance and support. The arrangement will also create the potential for HCL to work with EFI in other areas going forward, where it makes sense.
The partnership between Xerox and EFI has been a long-standing one. Most recently, Xerox collaborated with EFI to develop a new print server, the Xerox IJ Print Server powered by Fiery, to drive the Xerox Trivor 2400 continuous-feed production inkjet press. The DFE handles a range of data streams, while enabling integration, comprehensive color management and seamless integration with customer workflows.
“This next step in our strategic alliance will give customers the industry’s highest performing DFE with unparalleled imaging and color management,” added Guy Gecht, CEO of EFI, in a statement. “EFI integration among the DFE, workflow software, and management information systems products deliver the higher levels of automation and productivity that are key to print businesses taking full advantage of the opportunities with digital printing.”
The next-generation DFE coming from this partnership will be integrated with EFI’s Productivity Suites, which include management information systems such as PACE, PrintSmith Vision, Monarch and Radius ERP. Additionally, the DFE will integrate with Xerox FreeFlow Core and XMPie workflows, as well as third-party prepress solutions such as Agfa Apogee, Heidelberg Prinect and Kodak Prinergy. The Fiery DFE, which is the industry’s only JDF-certified DFE, will also offer a modern API to allow customers to easily develop integration to any customized applications.
The sales agreement between EFI and Xerox is for the FFPS business only and does not impact the Xerox workflow solutions that carry a FreeFlow sub-brand name (FreeFlow Core, FreeFlow VI Suite, FreeFlow Makeready and FreeFlow Digital Publisher). Those workflow solutions will remain independent key planks for Xerox customers’ workflow strategy.