Xerox pitches more colour for business

Xerox on Wednesday introduced several new products including the first color multifunction device based on its solid ink technology.

Pitching colour printing as a competitive advantage for businesses, Xerox on Wednesday introduced several new products including the first colour multifunction scanner, copier and printer based on its solid ink technology.

On Wednesday the company plans to announce the WorkCentre C2424, a US$2,999 device for small and medium-sized workgroups that Xerox claims costs less and prints faster than competing products. Xerox offers 28 color printers and copiers. The C2424 is set to be unveiled by Xerox Chief Executive Officer Anne Mulcahy at an event in San Francisco.

Only 3 percent of the estimated 3 trillion pages printed annually by businesses worldwide today is printed in color, according to Xerox. The company expects that to climb to 10 percent by 2008 and wants a big slice of what it says is a US$22 billion market opportunity.

The color printing space is growing while the black and white market is relatively stagnant, said Keith Kmetz, a program director at market researcher IDC. "Color definitely is the fastest growing area of the market," he said. "Color has become more affordable, so it has opened up to a wider potential of customers. Also, customers are starting to see the benefits of printing in color."

The C2424 can print up to 24 pages per minute and can multitask, meaning that a user who wants to make a copy does not have to wait for another user's print job to finish, according to Xerox.

Also, because the C2424 is based on Xerox's solid ink technology, it delivers better image quality and ease of use than competing products, according to Marlene Glazer of Buyers Laboratory, an independent testing organisation.

"The image quality easily rivals some of the high end LED (Light Emitting Diode) printers," said Glazer, who has tested the C2424. Additionally, the new Xerox product offers better copying features when compared with other printer-centric products in this market segment, she said. Competing products are sold by vendors including Hewlett-Packard and Lexmark International, she said.

Solid ink technology was previously found only in Xerox's single-function printers. The imaging process for solid ink works similar to offset printers. It uses solid, polymer-based ink instead of powdered toner. Because of the absence of toners, liquids, tanks or cartridges the machine is easier to use and maintain, according to Xerox.

The C2424 is the first Xerox color-enabled multifunction device that will be available through a broad channel of value-added resellers in addition to other channels such as agents, dealers and direct sales representatives, Xerox said in a statement. The product is due out in early April in North America and will be rolled out elsewhere shortly thereafter, Xerox said.

In addition to the new multifunction device, Xerox on Wednesday also announced a new controller for its DocuColor 12 color copier and printer and three new black and white products: the CopyCentre C118 copier and the M118 and M118i basic multifunction system.

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Joris Evers

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