Print is not dead, says Canon
Canon is celebrating 30 years in Ireland this year, and TechPro spoke to country manager Philip Brady about acquisitions, the changing business landscape and the dogged persistence of print.
Canon employs more than 200,000 people worldwide, in three major market divisions, the US, EMEA, and Asia-Pacific. Each area has particular specialities and centres of development, with the EMEA division being responsible for the breakthrough UVgel technology that allows printing on the likes of Perspex and vinyl.
“We want to be part of images, no matter what it is, be it the storage, the creation, the movement or printing,” Philip Brady, Canon
Canon is going very strongly, both on a local and European level, said Brady, and also at the global level. The company is profitable on a worldwide scale, and performing well with $4 billion (€3.43 billion) in profit expected this year.
Though strong in acquisitions in recent years, adding the likes of Océ, Delft and Toshiba Medical to its ranks, it is also still heavily committed to internal development, with significant investment in R&D, particularly in its traditional markets, such as imaging.
Brady said its EOS camera range is a good example, which, since its debut in 1987, has now developed into a range of 17 cameras and 80 odd lenses.
Our office and print lines remain very much core businesses for us, said Brady. But the acquisition of Océ, a print and workflow management company, has brought us into some very large markets.
Inkjet technology, in high-end print, Brady explained, is still very much the way forward, and that is a transition from traditional lithographic printing, across to digital. This kind of printing lends itself to the likes of booklets, marketing collateral, reports, mass print such as bills etc. These functions have been brought back in house by many large organisations over the last few years, as the technology has improved, but also simplified in terms of materials, controls and costs.
According to Brady, this class of machine and process offers much reduced time and effort, as well as efficiency. He reports that Canon recently sold a Canon (Océ) i300 in Dublin, which are in excess of €1 million per unit.
While around 30 such units have been sold around Europe, selling one in Ireland is still quite a coup, said Brady. However, it is thought that at least a few more could be sold here, he adds.
The acquisition of Océ allowed us to do that, said Brady, to get in and have those conversations with customers.
Developing its professional print capability has been a particular focus for Canon, said Brady, and we have really built that up in the last three years or so, almost from a standing start in some respects, and would probably command about 20% of that market now, which is pretty strong.
An added benefit of this class of machinery, said Brady, is that they include secure processes and controls, with specific elements to help with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) efforts in protecting sensitive information in the print process.
Elsewhere, Brady said there is still a lot to be done for what he says Canon refers to as the ‘lost generation’—that cohort of family that grew up during the digital transition, where fewer and fewer pictures were actually being printed. Walls, sideboards and mantlepieces are bereft of pictures because they are all still stored on digital media, and despite their being no dearth of such images, the printed photograph is still relatively rare.
We want to be part of images, no matter what it is, said Brady, be it the storage, the creation, the movement or printing.
“There are so many people taking images on their phone now, but if it is a nice image, we want to encourage people to print them,” said Brady.
Some years ago, before the term ‘selfie’ was even coined, Canon had a version of it themselves, but with a different emphasis.
The Selphy line of printers referred to a quick access, personal printer to allow people to easily print form digital devices, especially mobile phones. Lab quality prints available at the touch of a button was the strategy to encourage those people who took pictures on a variety of devices to print them and enjoy them, rather than store them where they cannot be seen.
A dye-sublimation print process, said Brady, ensures the pictures last as long as any photo print, with a claim of up to 100 years in a photo album. All of which, Canon hopes, encourages that lost generation to be taken from storage, printed and displayed.
While well known for its imaging on both the business and consumer side, Canon’s medical imaging business is perhaps, less well known.
With its acquisition of a Dutch specialist in the area, Delft, in 2012, the company strengthened its offerings and developed them across many markets. In 2016, it completed the acquisition of Toshiba Medical, for some €6 billion (€5.1 billion), demonstrating its commitment and ambition in the sector.
Network cameras and systems have also become a significant business for Canon, said Brady, where the company believes it may well be the largest supplier of such devices in Europe.
With so many strong sectors for the company, Brady said that cloud is a key element, particularly in providing services to businesses.
Brady said that all its major platforms are cloud-based, which means it can deliver almost all of its services to customers from the cloud.
This is critical, he said, as more and more on demand services are being requested and consumed. Technology is moving to on demand, for all things, as well as being able to provide bespoke options to all.
Print is not dead, said Brady, but more connected, more automated than ever before.