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Commentary: Where's HP's commitment?

Hewlett-Packard's foray into the high-end, high-speed printing market might leave some questioning the company's commitment.

By Ken Weilerstein and James Lundy, Gartner Analysts

Hewlett-Packard's foray into the high-end, high-speed printing market might leave some questioning the commitment.

See news story:
HP ups the ante in printing-press market
HP might find potential buyers for its new high-speed color digital printer being likewise of a skeptical mind. The Digital Press 6600 takes HP far outside its core printer markets and into commercial printing, corporate in-plant printing and corporate production printing.

The high-speed color printing market has been slow to take off, for reasons of technology and price, but new products from various companies are changing that. High-speed production color printing is not just for offset printing presses anymore.

However, HP must be mindful of its reputation in this market. Customers who shell out big bucks--the base model price for the Digital Press 6600 will be around $200,000--for digital printing presses have long memories. Furthermore, buyers and operators of high-end printing equipment tend to be a tight-knit fraternity who cultivate long-term relationships with companies and who depend on those comannies for reliable customer service.

The customer service standards set in this market area by HP competitors such as Heidelberg are high. If HP's service and standards fall short, it could give the company a public relations black eye.

So, if HP is merely testing the waters in this market and isn't fully committed to supporting a high-end printer marketing strategy, it is taking a considerable risk, particularly in light of the fact that the Digital Press 6600 is an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) version of the Indigo Turbostream (HP owns a $100 million stake in Indigo). HP is also wading into territory that copier mainstay Xerox has its eye on.

New high-speed digital color printers have the potential to radically alter the high-speed digital color printing market, taking it from an offset to a digital world. Businesses contemplating the purchase of new high-speed color printers should factor product availability (current and pending) into their decisions.

Gartner believes that, before getting too deeply involved in HP's new product line, businesses should seek a clear long-term commitment from HP that states its plans and specifies the resources it plans to commit to this market.

(For related commentary on wireless printing, see free registration required.)

Entire contents, Copyright ? 2001 Gartner, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.