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Lexmark Revamps Color Printers for SMBs, Seeks Growth in Crowded MarketLexmark Revamps Color Printers for SMBs, Seeks Growth in Crowded Market

Lexmark hired Kodak chief customer officer Tom Cavanagh to lead the new unit.

Jeffrey Schwartz

August 29, 2019

4 Min Read
Lexmark Printer

Lexmark is looking to the future with the formation of a new business unit that will seek growth opportunities beyond its core market of offering printers and managed print services.

The move comes as Lexmark rolls out a much-needed revamp of its color laser printers with more compact and faster models for SMBs — called the Go Line. Nearly three tumultuous years after a consortium of investors acquired the company, Lexmark is signaling that it has retrofitted its lines of enterprise and SMB printers and its managed print services business.

Lexmark's Tom Cavanagh

Lexmark’s Tom Cavanagh

All of this has come amid several CEO changes in recent years. In May, Lexmark named its latest CEO, Allen Waugernman, a 28-year veteran of the company who most recently was chief technology officer. Lexmark has hired Tom Cavanagh, formerly Eastman Kodak’s VP of intellectual property solutions and chief customer officer, as the new senior VP in charge of the new business unit. Cavanagh, who reports to Waugerman, wasn’t available to discuss his new role, but he oversaw Eastman Kodak’s push into advanced materials and 3-D printing.

While Lexmark has some activities beyond traditional printing, such as a line of systems that can print RFID labels and this spring’s launch of its Cloud Print Infrastructure (CPI), a service that uses IoT sensors and cloud technologies to broaden its managed print services (MPS), the new division aims to expand Lexmark’s “paths to market, focusing on sales channels not traditionally used in imaging,” the company said. Lexmark said Cavanagh will tap the company’s imaging expertise for potential joint ventures or acquisitions.

“I look forward to leveraging Lexmark’s technology expertise in new areas of growth for the business,” Cavanagh said in a statement.

The New Go Line

Meanwhile, Lexmark officials describe this month’s rollout of its new Go Line of standalone and multifunction printers (MFPs) as an important refresh that partners have long-awaited. In 2018, Lexmark refreshed a vast majority of its enterprise and mid-range products. Perhaps the company’s most complex line upgraded was the SMB-focused, 310-class portfolio, which was in major need of a major redesign, Ron Wells, Lexmark’s senior global product marketing manager, acknowledged. The company started shipping the new Go Line this month and it will be available worldwide by mid-September, Wells said.

“This represents a new design and new architecture for Lexmark, where we focused primarily on the three pain points that we consistently heard about from our end-user and our reseller community of what the product didn’t have, what it needed, and more importantly, the stuff that it had that they didn’t want,” Wells said during an interview with Channel Futures.

One key thing they didn’t like were the sizes of the systems.

“We were told that they were just simply too big, and there were too many,” Wells added. “And this became a fundamental problem not so much from a usability standpoint, but from getting the product to the customers’ location and deploying them.”

Modern workspace configurations require printers that can fit in much tighter spaces, often under cubicles with restricted amounts of room. Also, many complained they needed to be …

… light enough for individual employees to move around. Consequently, the new systems are anywhere from 30% lighter and smaller.

The new Go Line portfolio consists of two color single-function printers, the C3224dw and C3326dw; three color MFPs, the MC3224dweMC3224adwe and MC3326adwe; and a new monochrome MB2236adwe MFP. Depending on the models, the color systems print 24 or 26 color pages per minute (ppm), and the mono system has an output speed of 36 ppm. The multifunction systems have a 2.8-inch touchscreen. The new systems are equipped with multicore processors and support Lexmark’s enterprise security capabilities including encryption, and all now come with integrated Wi-Fi connectivity.

Lexmark is the fifth largest provider of standalone print systems and multifunction printers (MFPs) in the U.S., according to Max Pepper, a research analyst at IDC.

“It still has significant room to grow, though, with the next largest vendor shipping more than twice as many peripherals,” Pepper said. “Lexmark already has a strong presence in the SMB market, mainly through the IT channel. With the Go Line, Lexmark is hoping that providing a line marketed toward SMBs such as HP’s Smart Buy will allow them to grow that presence.”

Two aspects of the new Go systems and Lexmark’s marketing messaging stand out to Pepper. One is Lexmark’s focus on how much customer research and feedback went into the redesign of the product, he said. The other is Lexmark’s claim that it has a higher level of security for this level of product than other competitors offer.

“It’s hard to substantiate whether this claim is true; however, Lexmark is indeed providing a wide variety of device hardening and content protection capabilities with these products,” he said. “It’s difficult to say now if these new Go Line products will grow their market share, but they have a great marketing opportunity with them.”

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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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