Samsung's A4 printing technology

What is HP doing with Samsung’s A4 printing technology that it recently acquired?

Everyone who follows the printing sector is well aware that HP completed the $1.05 billion acquisition of Samsung’s printing division on November 1, 2017. The acquisition was largely designed to support HP’s objectives to gain market dominance in the A3 market and transition its company from transactional to contractual engagements while providing HP with instant access to Samsung’s technology portfolio, patents, engineers, and channel. Samsung-branded A4 printers and MFPs were also purchased by HP, which resulted in a significant amount of portfolio overlap between HP’s LaserJet and inkjet-based products. The market was also left wondering what HP would do next to clear up the clogged portfolio it had produced.HP is now offering clarity on how it would exploit its A4 Samsung-brand portfolio and sell these devices through open distribution channels, 1.5 years after its acquisition.

The Open Distribution Portfolio of HP Today

There is a lot of competition in HP’s printer hardware lineup for open distribution channels. It includes DeskJet and ENVY inkjets for home use, OfficeJet and OfficeJet Pro inkjets for SOHO clients, PageWide inkjets for small and medium-sized businesses, and laser-based LaserJet configurations that cater to a variety of market niches.

In its portfolio, HP combines its own engine technology with Canon engines and devices it has obtained through its acquisition of Samsung’s printing division. Canon has been a partner of HP for more than 25 years, providing the engines for the company’s highly successful LaserJet line. Before the acquisition, HP’s laser-based product range was quite complete, therefore the inclusion of Samsung-based devices only slightly increased its portfolio while mostly increasing overlap with its Canon-based LaserJet product line. So what comes next?

Reasons Why HP Needs to Change Its Portfolio

In accordance with the conditions of HP’s purchase of Samsung’s printing division, Samsung would retain ownership of its brand name for two years when it comes to hardware configurations. A component of the Samsung portfolio needs to be phased out or replaced as HP near the two-year mark (November 1, 2019). HP did not initially clarify its replacement plans until recent activity was noticed, even though HP declared intentions to renew components of its purchased Samsung-based A4 printers and MFPs on a segment-by-segment basis.

HP’s Initial Step in Using the A4 Samsung Portfolio.

Gap Intelligence retail collectors discovered HP’s Color Laser MFP 178nw at Walmart for $199 at the beginning of May 2019. The device and Samsung’s Xpress C480FW have several striking cosmetic similarities when compared side by side.

A closer look reveals that the HP-branded device has many of the same features as the Xpress C480FW, including wireless capabilities, a 150-sheet standard input tray capacity, and print rates of 19/4ppm, among other things. In other words, HP rebranded the Samsung-branded item it had previously acquired. It is the first low-end HP-branded product to use Samsung technology to obtain widespread distribution through a significant brick-and-mortar shop.

At the end of October 2019, the HP-Samsung hardware branding agreement will come to an end, and the Color Laser MFP 178nw will likely be one of many HP-branded devices that use Samsung technology to be sold alongside items made in collaboration with Canon. With the addition of Samsung-based A4 configurations (available through October 31, 2019), Canon-based LaserJets, HP-based business inkjets, Samsung-based A3 printers and copiers, and now an HP-branded A4 colour laser AiO that makes use of Samsung technology, HP is continuing a six-plus year effort to diversify its printer portfolio.

What can be expected from HP next ?

In the near future, it’s anticipated that HP will introduce new products under the HP brand that use laser marking technology obtained from its acquisition of Samsung’s printing division. The devices are anticipated to retail at a lower price than HP’s main Canon-based LaserJet series in order to pique interest from consumers with limited print volumes who are looking for a colour laser device with an aggressively low hardware purchase price (hence the distribution at Walmart and very competitive price point)

With the release of its new device, HP calls into doubt the future of its established partnership with Canon. If there’s one thing we can infer about HP, it’s that the business is open to switching engine vendors (recall when its A3s were supplied from Canon, then Sharp, and now Samsung). It’s possible that HP will do the same with its A4 lineup. However, for the time being, “Laser” devices from Samsung and “LaserJet” devices from Canon will sell in the same market, targeting various market niches and enabling HP to cater to various consumer types while utilising each technology.

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