Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Although Hewlett-Packard remained the market leader for printers, its largest competitors—Canon, Xerox, and Lexmark—were making strenuous efforts to narrow the gap. Also, as high technology moved into people’s living rooms, the company saw that other makers of computers and electronic goods—such as Microsoft and Apple, among others—had been able to position themselves as interesting and cutting edge while Hewlett-Packard was viewed by consumers as reliable but stodgy. Canon, the giant Japanese maker of business machines, cameras, and other optical products, presented a formidable challenge to Hewlett-Packard with its line of laser and BubbleJet printers. Marketing its products under the tag line ‘‘You can with a Canon,’’ the company experienced strong growth in its printers during 1997. Canon targeted businesses with such products as the Digital GP215, a multifunctional digital device for networked workgroups that printed, faxed, copied, and scanned. The company also introduced the MultiPASS L90, another multifunctional system, and a new color laser printer, the CLBP 360PS. The BubbleJet continued to defend its market share with a very small and light personal model, the BJC-50, weighing only 900 grams. Xerox Corporation, which introduced the first (manually operated) commercial xerographic product in 1949 and the first automatic office copier in 1959, made its first laser printer in 1977 and by 1991 was developing an extensive printer line. To highlight the company’s evolution from copy machines to a wide range of business products, Xerox in 1994 adopted the tag line ‘‘The Document Company, Xerox’’ as its new corporate signature. As a document company, Xerox in 1997 introduced an array of specialized printer products for business, including a color printer for signs, banners, and billboards; a printer designed specifically for engineering needs; and the Xerox Productivity Centre System, which allowed users to scan, store, manage, electronically collate, distribute, print, and copy wide-format documents such as those used by architects, mapmakers, and graphic artists. Lexmark brought up the rear in this august assemblage, but it was able to chip away at the other companies’ lead during 1997. Lexmark, based in Lexington, Kentucky, was smaller than its competitors and had a narrower product range. It concentrated on laser, ink jet, and dot matrix printers and associated supplies that were comparable but lower-priced than Hewlett-Packard models. In November 1997 Lexmark won the first Annual Peripherals Excellence Award for network laser printers, beating out Hewlett-Packard and Apple.