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Xerox heads for home

The office staple enters the home market with a color printer, copier, and scanner.

    Xerox wants to copy its way into your home.

    The office staple is making its first targeted Xerox document HomeCentre foray into the home market with a new combination device that prints, copies, and scans in color. The company is also introducing a color multifunction device for small and home offices.

    The Document HomeCentre for home users puts Xerox, best known for its copy machines in offices around the world, into a head-to-head battle with Hewlett-Packard and Canon in the market for multifunction peripherals (MFPs). These devices essentially combine a printer, copier, and scanner into one device, saving space and often costing less than the separate components.

    The Document HomeCentre scans and copies in 24-bit color and prints material at up to 600 by 600 dots per inch with four-color inkjet technology.

    The scanner can be removed from the top of the device and can scan material (such as magazine covers) that doesn't fit into a 8.5-inch by 11-inch sheet feeder. Included software enables scanned documents to be converted into editable text that retains the format of the original document. Also, included search engine software can locate information on any documents in a user's system.

    Growing more rapidly than the markets for single-function devices like printers and copiers, the multifunction peripheral (MFP) market segment is just now becoming a viable target, according to Keith Kmetz, an analyst with market research firm International Data Corporation.

    IDC says that in the personal MFP market (those sold to home and small office users), 1.1 million units were sold in 1996. That number is expected to grow by 29 percent and reach 3.9 million units in 2001, with 2.8 million of those units having at least one color function.

    Xerox's move into the home market for PC peripheral products closely follows HP's intrusion into Xerox's turf by providing businesses with color copier capabilities in its printers. While Xerox is targeting what it has termed home "personal productivity" users for the first time, the company is also continuing to offer a device for small office and home office users (SOHO) with the new WorkCentre 450c.

    The WorkCentre 450c is similar to the HomeCentre device, but can be used as a standalone fax machine even when the computer is off. The WorkCentre product also has the ability to fax (or scan) and print simultaneously, instead of devoting itself to one operation at a time.

    "The 450c goes after the established SOHO market," Kmetz said. "Xerox is going after a 'home personal' segment...[but it ] remains to be seen how big of a market this is. The full color [MFP's] have been typically at a $899 to $999 price point, so this is an interesting move," he says.

    According to Xerox, the Document HomeCentre will be priced at $499 and the WorkCentre 450c $549. Both will be available this quarter.