Heidelberg today announced that the company is to cancel its participation in drupa 2021. After Bobst and Xerox the third printing industry heavyweight dropped out now. Industry experts will feel a déjà vu with the last days of IPEX in 2014, with almost all major exhibitors dropping out before the show – one after another. This sealed the fate of IPEX, the second largest print trade show at its time.
Heidelberg justifies the decision of not exhibiting at drupa with the shortening innovation cycles and emerging digital business models. Heidelberg plans to customize its activities in regional markets and segments as well. Plans are to replace trade shows with events at their Print Media Centers (5 globally) and virtual events. Heidelberg pulled out of trade shows in developed countries many years ago, citing they know all customers already and rather invite them to the open house event. As the only exception drupa remained, as “the trade show you need to exhibit to be taken seriously in the graphic arts industry” and as the show that sets the mark for trends and technology developments.
Trade fairs have been under pressure in recent years. Cancelling most events in 2020 is making vendors considering their stance towards trade shows once more. So far drupa has been beyond discussion as the one trade show in which a vendor needs to exhibit to be taken seriously in the printing industry. Product and technology development plans have been timed for this show to maximise impact. Now drupa being moved to 2021 wreaks havoc to many plans and a good share of vendors decided to hold virtual launch events instead.
Two major vendors bailed out of drupa 2021 recently and opted for virtual events. Xerox cited insecurity around large events during a pandemic. Bobst announced that it was cancelling its participation at most trade shows, including Drupa, citing several reasons: A change in strategy to forego trade shows (except selected few in Far East) in favour of virtual events and experience centers, environmental reasons and that 2021 is already “full” for Bobst.
Virtual press conferences
As the first of the major vendors which cancelled their drupa participation for 2021 Bobst held an international press conference on the 9th of June. Several articles have been written on the launches presented, but I would like to focus on the underlaying question: how well does a virtual event as a substitute for a trade show participation.
First kudos to the event organisers. According to Bobst more than 100 journalists and analysts joined. The virtual press conference was well organized. The stream contained a mix of CEO Jean-Pascal Bobst talking, mixed with slides and him drawing on a flip chart (you still remember what this is?) to explain some workflow details. There was ample time for questions, also expertly moderated by Francois Martin.
Still – getting technology developments explained via a couple of slides always gives me the feel that I want to walk over and kick the tires of the new product at the booth or demo site. Given the wide range of listeners to a call it is impossible to give enough detail for the exports while not to overextend the ones that dabble in this field of expertise (or in the print industry as a whole). Crucially, as an analyst I want to learn about the important points that are not on polished vendor presentation slides, like pricing, availability, tech details, pros and cons and more. I find being able to stand in front of a piece of technology and talking to product managers, sales guys and technicians incredibly helpful. This is usually the opportunity to examine print samples as well. And you have a bit of time to let the first information settle and recall the points you want clarified.
2019 has been a busy year and thanks for following my blogs on this website or on LinkedIn. Especially my blog comparing the technology line-up of HP and Xerox garnered quite some interest. But there is more: my blogs at Inkjet Insight.
Shortly after becoming a freelancer I decided to become a regular contributor to Inkjet Insight, having seen as an industry analyst that inkjet is the most dynamic printing technology in production printing. Accordingly it is the technology which requires the most explanations and insight, not just from the suppliers but from an independent community.
Inkjet Insight is a web community that provides valuable tools and resources to help companies objectively evaluate the potential of inkjet for their business, optimize their operations and grow their businesses using production inkjet. It includes articles on in an extensive knowledge base. A product finder makes it easy to navigate the papers, printers, finishing and software available for inkjet printing. We strive to provide an unbiased listing of all options available. Access for most content is for free, but obviously we welcome if you become a member for full access to all details.
If you are a supplier and not listed yet with your offerings for inkjet, please let us know.
More blogs and articles
The full list of my blogs at Inkjet Insight can be found here. The most recent addition is a look at the Kyocera TASKalfa Pro 15000c. A short series of articles on inkjet printing in Europe has been started as well, with articles on transaction print and direct mail using inkjet published so far. The series will be continued in 2020, with a view on book printing with inkjet. A look at specialty applications and cut-sheet inkjet in Europe will be following later in 2020.
There will be a lot more exclusive coverage for inkjet insight this year on pre-drupa and drupa product launches. Stay tuned and get unbiased information on what is new.
A lot has been talked about Xerox’ intent to buy HP and the stock value created. But I have not seen reports comparing the technologies and device line-up and whether there are synergies to be found. However, this is the area that interests users and employees most. Let’s have a quick comparison by the main segments (and I know this could be 30 page report even without considering the PC business, but let’s keep it simple here) on where both companies stand.
FujiXerox was founded 57 years ago, as a sales organization for Xerox in the Asia-Pacific region and increasingly as development and manufacturing operation for many Xerox products. It started out as 50-50% joint venture but with Fujifilm buying half of Xerox’s stake in FujiXerox, Xerox was left as minority owner. Today almost all toner products sold by Xerox are in fact FujiXerox products. Quizzed on that point, Xerox always stated how closely aligned and coordinated development activities between both companies are. In today’s global business the split in distribution regions between Xerox and FujiXerox became more and more of an oddity. Every vendor of a certain size strives to sell global to offset ever increasing product development costs and spread other overhead. In 2018 Fujifilm proposed to take control of Xerox by merging Xerox and FujiXerox and paying out Xerox shareholders. This did not happen and gave way to some protracted dealings between the two companies.
This came to an end now. In an agreement made public on the 5th of November 2019 Fujifilm will acquire the 25% stake Xerox still holds in FujiXerox for a sum of $2.3 billion. The sum paid is remarkably similar to the $2.5 billion which would been paid to the Xerox shareholders, would the original deal have happened. As part of the deal Fujifilm will drop the litigation filed against Xerox after the original deal was cancelled. Both companies have now the opportunity to sell into the other territories and to OEM products to/from other companies.