Service and quality products kept longtime favorite Hewlett Packard Co. at the top of the multifunction printer category once again, but Lexmark International Inc. and Xerox Corp. gained some ground.
For Ed Greenberg, vice president of sales at Westford, Mass.-based solution provider IT Access, HP'sreputation for exceptional service and reliable products make up HP's one-two punch "All we sell is HP," said Greenberg.
Said Mark Quiroz, HP's director of sales strategy and channels, global enterprise business, Imaging and Printing: "We've always been regarded as building industry-leading products, and it's always been our core strength. We build very capable products that last a long time and provide value to the end users. As we've seen the market shift [we've focused] less around the product and more around the business problem we need to solve," Quiroz said.
He sees HP's drop in market share as a blip on its radar screen and is confident the company will remain the market leader.
"There's a challenge when you have such a high share of any given market, where those fluctuations could be due to a little change in strategy that cause a slight dip, but then you see it come back," Quiroz said.
But Lexmark and Xerox are chipping away.
Xerox introduced three MFPs and expanded its IT Advantage program last year, which helped it grow, said Gary Gillam, vice president of Xerox North America Channel Operations.
"Products are definitely part of it, and the products themselves create an upsell opportunity with higher ASPs," Gillam said. "VARs were saying we're looking and open to alternatives."
New products can help VARs sell higher-end solutions and make more money, he said. "We also realized that training was really important. We put a team in place and ran a pilot in 2006 and now have a national footprint with a team that works with the solution providers to move them up to the higher-end If you ask them more than anything else training is first and foremost what they need. It's a different conversation than selling a single-function printer."
Gillam said MFPs will continue to be a growth category for both Xerox and its competitors. "Our multifunction business grew 54 percent with distributors in 2007," he said.