Lexmark unveiled a slew of new equipment at their recent dealer event in Ft. Lauderdale , FL and showcased an impressive array of workflow solutions from their Kofax and Readsoft brands. If you’d like to read more about solutions, Senior Analyst Amy Weiss does an excellent job of covering Lexmark’s flagship TotalAgility refresh in Workflow here, and if you haven’t read my interview with former Kofax CEO and current VP of Lexmark International and President of Lexmark Enterprise Software Reynolds Bish, take a look – he’s at the forefront of their digital transformation efforts.

But here I’d like to talk about what Phil Boatman, business alliance manager at Lexmark is calling “the game changer,” and that is the XC8160. According to Boatman, the XC8160 represents a completely new segment for Lexmark at 60 pages per minute - he says it's the fastest A4 color device in the market in its segment. Boatman also believes that with 120 images per minute duplex scanning and full color duplex scanning that there is nothing else in the market that even comes close.

The message Lexmark wants to convey to its dealers about this device is simple – this machine will make you money. With an MSRP of nearly $26,000, it stands alone among A4 color MFPs on the market. Wait! What? One of the selling points of A4 to the user is ultra low cost. Having A4 equipment with an MSRP of $26,000 might make the dealer happy, but what about the user who says you can have A3 for that same amount, more or less? Valid point, perhaps, but Lexmark believes that the user is going to be excited.

Lexmark

Phil Boatman presenting the "game changer"

Priced like an A4 but behaves like an A3?

Lexmark says the cost per page to the dealer for this unit is so aggressive that they'll be able to price it out to the customer at far less than a penny on black, and less than 7 cents a page for color. According to Lexmark, 98 percent of the users in the world print or copy on A4 or letter-sized pages, so 98 percent of customers are going to be happy with this new unit because not only does it have all of the cost advantages, but it also has every finishing feature available on an A3 aside from saddle stitch. It does multi-position stapling and hole punching. It's got top-left, top-right, two on the side; there is basically nothing this device can't do aside from printing on 11-by-17-sized A3 paper.

One more thing it has is a 10-inch touchscreen — Lexmark went to an Android-like user experience, equipping their A4 device with the touch and gesture capabilities that you'd find on an Android operating system. This also brings greater customization and push-button workflow capabilities.

Mike Johnson, vice president North America, Business Channels & SMB, believes that the XC8160 is a disruptive product. Lexmark wants their dealers to use this machine as a growth strategy. It is specifically designed to allow their dealers to go head to head against A3 devices and take market share. And in an effort to help foster that growth and give dealers room to develop the market, Lexmark is taking greater ownership of the service component. They want to lessen the risk to the dealer associated with placing the machines in high usage environments, so have packaged the XC8160 with a four-year parts and maintenance kits warranty without any restriction or proration. And that, to Johnson’s point, eliminates risk.

A4 reaching for the crown?

There is a tendency toward certain shifts in the industry that just never seem to go away. These include the transition from single-function to MFP, from monochrome to color, from transactional to contractual environments and from A3 to A4. The migration of pages from A3 to A4 devices began with the convergence of the copier and printer markets and has been strengthened by the transition to MPS. Organizations paying much closer attention to the costs of printing led to the adoption of managed print services; that same issue has helped businesses uncover over-placement and under-utilization of A3 machines. The A4 MFP typically offers a compelling value proposition for MPS installations, with a lower acquisition price, fewer service interventions and reduced service costs.

This continued migration to A4 hardware has put increased pressure on traditional copier/MFP vendors and the office equipment channel. Most copier vendors are actively engaged in pushing their own A4 strategies and most of these new machines are designed with fully integrated support for embedded solutions and cloud connectivity.

Lexmark is counting on what it calls three key differentiators to help take its strategy to the customer and the channel: best-in-class A4 MFPs for the office environment; a sophisticated solutions portfolio that will allow customers to leverage the smart MFP as an access point to information; and deep industry expertise in specific markets where information access is poorly distributed, siloed and inefficient. For instance, Lexmark’s success in the enterprise sector has stemmed from its strength in specific verticals, such as healthcare, retail, finance, legal, and hospitality, through acquisitions such as Perceptive, Kofax and ReadSoft. (Although Lexmark itself has been recently acquired, to date no changes to business operations have been announced.) And now it has what it is calling a disruptive game changer. I look forward to a good seat at the coronation.

Patricia Ames
Patricia Ames

is senior analyst for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Ames has worked for prominent consulting firms including KPMG and has more than 10 years experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors. Ames has lived and worked in the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe and enjoys being a part of a global industry and community. Follow her on Twitter at @OTGPublisher or contact her by email at patricia@bpomedia.com.