Lexmark Reinvents Product Lineup

Earlier this month, Lexmark, Lexington, KY., announced a series of new monochrome multifunction products for workgroups, as it strives to rebuild brand strength in the channeL. Amid this backdrop, Paul Rooke, Lexmark&'s executive vice president and president of the printing solutions and services division, spoke to Senior Editor Edward F. Moltzen about the product lineup, Lexmark&'s color printer plans and customization. The following are excerpts from that interview:

CRN: With everything we&'ve heard over the past 18 months about the need to emphasize color, do you think you&'ll be able to get the message out about your new products with the emphasis on mono?

ROOKE: We do have color products, some of which we recently announced, including a low- to mid-range color laser. It&'s been received very well, and our volumes are ramping up. We have a good, strong color printer line with the C510, the C2X and the C76X, and on the multifunction side, we have a good, solid workgroup-class color multifunction printer in the X76X product. So we have those out there. As we work through announcement cycles—stay tuned. Color is well in our future, and you&'ll see future announcements coming in time on color multifunctions as well.

CRN: In terms of ‘you&'re not moving paper around but moving information around&'—how much of that is going to be driving your R&D and technology focus going forward? You still need to sell hardware and supplies.

ROOKE: You know, it starts with what we hear from our customers. We can sell them printers, but what we found was that&'s not all they want to talk about. What they want to talk about is improving their business. If I can make a decision quicker about moving this information off of a dock, or a bank branch office, or a hospital nurses station or whatever it may be, to get that information to a decision maker, then I shorten the cycle time of my business from three weeks to get a piece of paper from a distributed location to some central headquarters in a fraction of a second. Now I&'ve got it in queue for someone to make a loan decision or a pharmacy decision or whatever it may be. And that&'s what our customers are getting excited about. When we show them the workflow aspect of multifunction, they get excited. We&'re building more flexibility into our platform so we can do even more of these applications.

Sponsored post

CRN: Lexmark Chairman and CEO Paul Curlander has said an awful lot about the need to improve sales with respect to Lexmark-branded products as opposed to the OEM part of the business. How important is customization to your strategy to increase Lexmark-branded sales? Is Lexmark trying to position itself as the customizable solution?

ROOKE: The customization aspect of Lexmark isn&'t something that just happened over the last nine months. Since we started back in ‘91, there&'s been a core part of our value proposition to our enterprise or business customers. It&'s not so much a consumer play. But on the business side, this is how we built the enterprise part of our business. It&'s customer intimacy combined with technology, the levers that we turn. It&'s a powerful differentiator for us. We have the technical levers to do it. HP goes to Canon for their technology. With us, we have that flexibility to listen to our customers, to do something about it, and then bring our partners in to do some of that customization work.

CRN: We&'ve heard from solution providers that it&'s difficult or impossible for toner gray-marketers to copy the ink from the printers of your competitors such as Hewlett-Packard and Xerox and sell it in the recharge market. But they say with Lexmark, it&'s not as difficult. And they think that&'s where Lexmark may be more vulnerable than others. Do you agree with that? How much of your supply business is being taken away by gray-marketers?

ROOKE: I don&'t agree that Lexmark technology is easier to refill than others. Electro-photography has been around for years. While we have different implementations of it, it&'s fundamentally very much the same EP technology. And on the inkjet side, our technology is quite similar to what HP has. Is there a difference between ours and theirs that makes us more vulnerable to refillers? No. Given that refillers do exist for all of us, are there things that we can do to help prevent that? We&'ve actually been very proactive in that. Some customers, depending on their applications, do prefer a refill or remanufactured cartridge. We believe we are the largest refiller, remanufacturer in the world for those applications where you don&'t need premium print quality; it&'s quite adequate. Certainly, remanufacturing is a key part of what we do. We control and own the technology so we&'re able to do that with original components and help our customers have a solution.