Dell Exec Says A3 Printer Market 'Is Declining', Touts New Bargain Enterprise Printers And The Partners To Sell Them

Dell Technologies is rolling out two new enterprise printers and print management software, and a company executive says the new line is a shovelful of dirt on the grave of the A3 printer market.

"The reality is most companies don't need A3, but copier companies continue to sell them," said Orlando Lacayo, Dell global product manager. "Only 1 [percent to] 3 percent of all pages printed are on A3. It's a tiny fraction, but there's a push to sell them because they're very expensive and you can make more money on them than you can on A4."

The new single-function S3840 and the multifunction S3845 printers have starting list prices of $599 and $999, respectively, and Lacayo said the company intends to leverage its growing relationship with the channel to move them.

[Related: HP Inc. Reveals Plans For Up To 4,000 Job Cuts In Next Three Years]

"Channel is one of our growth opportunities. It's been growing really well, double-digit growth over the last couple of years with distributors like Ingram [Micro] and Tech Data and large VARs," Lacayo said. "The plan for next year is to grow that business even more by going wide and deep. Customers and partners we have a relationship with now, we're going to increase the business we do with them."

Lacayo said apart from price, the lines between the A3 and A4 markets are blurring. "The A3 and A4 worlds are colliding," Lacayo said. "For copier companies that have been around a long time, A3 is declining, so the A3 companies are trying to make up revenue loss by getting into the A4 space."

Dell's newest printers are being introduced now to take advantage of significant advances in printer technology, as well as market timing, according to Lacayo. The final part of the year is typically a busy buying season, and customers are looking to do broad tech refreshes, he said.

"The technology has evolved where it makes a lot of sense for a customer to refresh," Lacayo said. "The difference in energy consumption five years ago compared to now is incredible. We have more efficient processors, more efficient power management. Over the last few years the chemical composition of toner has been improved so the temperatures are lower, which reduces energy consumption and reduces the time to print."

Dell's main competitors in the printer market are HP Inc. and Lexmark. Lacayo said Dell is intent on beating those industry stalwarts on price and by pushing more printers through the channel, where there are many partners that haven't typically sold Dell printer products, he said.

"There's a lot of white space, a lot of partners we haven't touched," Lacayo said. But now that more partners are bringing Dell into their print catalogs, the line is gaining traction, particularly with federal government agencies.

"Our value proposition compared to what's out there is very compelling," Lacayo said. "Our printers are $599, and if you look at that price point and compare to the competition, it's 20 [percent] or 30 percent better than the competition in that space. Security, functionality, those features are embedded. That's the value we bring to the table."

And despite predictions that an increasingly mobile workforce would use printers less and less, Stephen Monteros, senior vice president at Sigmanet, an Ontario, Calif., solution provider that works with several printer vendors, said his printer business is growing.

"They keep telling us that people are going to print less and are going to use fewer printers, but people seem to be printing more," Monteros said. "Our printer business probably grows 5 [percent] or 6 percent a year, and I can see people going through more consumables, even when they go to managed print services. Supposedly you weren't going to print when you had all these apps on your phone, but all it does is give you more choices."

Dell, Round Rock, Texas, is offering partners spiffs on an individual, as well as the company level, based on achievement of certain goals, Lacayo said. The company is also offering discounts for large deals.

Hand in hand with the new printers, Dell is putting out its first new release of printer management software in five years. The software is called OpenManage Printer Essentials, and it allows IT admins to service printers across the enterprise from a single command center dashboard. The software is free and will be available for download Nov. 29. Recognizing that most environments are mixed, Dell developed the software to manage any vendor's printers.

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