InfoTrends: HP Sets Deal with Sharp

InfoTrends reports that HP recently established a partnership with Sharp Corporation regarding a new range of color and monochrome light production printers. These imaging devices will be distributed exclusively as part of HP‘s managed print services (MPS) contracts.

As was revealed by InfoTrends, the partnership is based on the 900 series MFP, HP’s first high-end workgroup/light production device. Also, the products will initially be introduced in North America, Western Europe, and Australia, as well as other regions that will follow later in 2014. The line includes four models and various HP solutions including remote monitoring, HP Capture & Route, HP Access Control and several security solutions. At this stage, Sharp and its authorized distributors will provide break/fix service.

InfoTrends says HP has long been lacking in its product line for A3 size printers, higher volume printers and more fully-featured, workgroup/light production printers with strong finishing capabilities. “The 900 series is the result of the demand from enterprise customers that require a single MPS provider and HP’s need to expand its higher end offerings,” adds InfoTrends.

Further, InfoTrends sees this move as a way for HP to grasp a greater share of the MPS market, noting that HP was losing deals, while Canon has been increasing its efforts in the enterprise MPS market. Regarding Sharp, InfoTrends commented that it “has a limited presence in the enterprise MPS market and much to gain from a supplier relationship with HP”.

InfoTrends believes “HP’s market strength and a solid, light production product should be a winning combination”, adding that “the 900 series will suffice for light volume print rooms, but has its limitations against higher-speed/volume/featured products from Xerox, Canon, Ricoh, and Konica Minolta.”

In addition to expecting HP to “be aggressive on pricing and bundling in an effort to win deals and build volumes”, InfoTrends advises existing HP customers to “consider rebalancing their existing fleet or extending their MPS contract to include additional capabilities and devices”.

The research group also noted that Sharp has much to gain in terms of unit sales and future products. The deal with HP guarantees Sharp “access to a customer base (enterprise MPS) that it would likely not be able to reach effectively on its own”.

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