Minolta and Canon fight it out on the shelf

Minolta QMS and Canon are engaged in a price war after Minolta announced an attempt to kill off inkjet printer sales by the release of its sub-$2,000 laser machine next Monday.

Minolta has tightened its margins to crash through the psychological price barrier, and has secured Harvey Norman to stock and promote the product.

Canon has responded by unleashing its new generation of workplace-specific colour inkjets at $1,599 and $1,999 retail. The machines boast a 9 cents per page running cost, made possible by a new head technology.

Canon claims the N-series will fulfil corporate and SMB demand for high-performance colour printing, normally associated with laser printers, combined with the ease of maintenance associated with inkjet technology.

Minolta, however, is "extremely dubious" about Canon's assertions, suggesting the speed and cost of refills will blow out when the print mode is aligned to the coverage quality of a laser.

The absence of a network card as a standard feature in the N-series may also deter consumers. Minolta's magicolor 2300 Desklaser is network-ready straight out of the box for the Windows environment. The vendor said a postscript version will be released soon.

"Canon says it wants to target resellers that have network interface expertise, but the network card comes as an optional extra," said Minolta QMS's sales and marketing manager, Garry Pendleton.

It is also questionable whether the corporate environment will feel comfortable using inkjet machines, having become accustomed to laser printers.

Canon was unavailable for comment at press time.

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