Archive for September, 2009

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Canon’s New Line of ImageRUNNER Advance MFDs (with Corrections)

September 30, 2009

I went to Las Vegas last week to see the official unveiling of Canon’s new smart MFDs called ImageRUNNER Advanced. I was impressed with what I saw. Here are a few of the highlights. I have received some info to correct some of my observations. I have posted these corrections in PURPLE.

The new line of ImageRUNNER-Advanced will have: the product name is actually imageRUNNER ADVANCE

The availability for an optional USB Keyboard that will either sit right in the middle of the MFD or on its own mount.

Large Full Color Touch Screens – The Operations Panel (UI) is very customizable. There is a Main Menu and a Quick Key Menu (where you can program complex tasks into one button workflows)  It’s hard to believe but Canon made their new Op Panel even easier for end users than their current Canon Op Panel.

The new line is more eco friendly (both in how they were manufactured, and how they run)

Advanced Box (A-Box) which will be a type of File Server on the MFD for collaboration

Access Management System (AMS) – which will allow you to limit what functions each user can do on the MFD

All of the new line have (optional) Security card authorization built in to the front of the MFD.

Scan to USB Thumb Drive (This can be disabled by an Authorized Canon Technician for high security environments)

Print From USB Thumb Drive

Suspend on Mismatch (print around functionality) – If a Print job can’t print because it doesn’t have the correct paper loaded, the jobs behind it will continue to print.

All of the line has two separate processors, Even  faster response from MEAP Apps (like UniFLOW or Authorized Send)

There is a new Print Driver Customization Utility being released. It will allow us to customize a Canon PCL 5 or PCL 6 driver. CORRECTION – Canon Driver Configuration Tool:  The CDCT will allow for customizing PCL 6, PCL 6, PostScript, and UFR II drivers for Canon controllers, vs. just PCL 5/6 That’s great news!

So you could REMOVE the option for color, or make double sided mandatory BEFORE you push it out from your Print Server to their end users. Both Network Admins and CFOs will love the ability that this will give them to enforce the Corporate policies on cost savings and “Green Initiatives”.

All ‘I” series in the new line will come with “Canon Essentials” which will include: ImageRUNNER ADVANCE Essentials:  The three components of Essentials are imageRUNNER ADVANCE Desktop, Tracker, and Workflow Composer with 3 standard WFC Connectors (SMB, FTP, and SMB Index Connectors).  imageWARE Document Server (not Document Manager Server) is a separate option which uses imageRUNNER ADVANCE Desktop as a front end.

  • A 5 user license of the Canon Desktop Software (similar to eCopy Desktop)
  • Tracker – replaces ImageWARE Accounting Manager for MEAP  (helps track who is doing what on each MFD)
  • WorkFLOW composer to set up those complex tasks into one button workflows on the quick men
  • Document Manager Server
  • Dashboard – which allows you to see the MFDs screen remotely (on a PC) – good for training or remote troubleshooting. The “Dashboard” referred to is actually the Remote Operation Kit, and is also a separate option as well.

There will be a couple of new Universal Send options:

  • Reader Extensions (for PDFs) – allows a basic Acrobat Reader to mark up a PDF created with this option
  • Office Open XML format (OOXML) – Scans in this format can be opened and edited in Powerpoint

There will be an optional Document Scan Lock & Tracking that will embed an almost invisible 3D bar code on the Document that can make it not possible to copy it unless you are the owner.

Canon is the only MFD manufacturer currently to have a connector that ties directly into Adobe LiveCycle Server. This Server allows you to apply security policies to scanned PDFs right from the new Canon IR-Advanced. So you might not allow anyone to print this PDF, or only a certain group of people. It can also have a PDF “time out” so that it no longer opens after a certain date . I spoke to the Adobe Rep at the show and he tells me that Adobe LiveCycle is very big in government circles. Adobe:  LiveCycle is a fairly large platform that’s modular in nature. The integration with the Rights Management module of Adobe LiveCycle ES.   Good description on what it does, though. It’s also big in finance areas, both finance companies and finance-related sections of businesses.

There also a new MS Office plugin for the ImageProGraph Wide Format Printers. It adds a nice tab to MS Office apps (like Word, Excel, Powerpoint) that provides easy to use wizards so the end user can easily print posters from these MS Office apps. I believe that this can be downloaded now.

Overall there is a lot to like on the new Canon ImageRUNNER Advanced line of MFDs.

That’s My $0.02

Vince McHugh

vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

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Will Ikon sub contract Canon service?

September 25, 2009

Apparently the eight questions to ask Ikon regarding Canon service has made an impact. Ikon has recently sent out a letter (dated August 2009) that states “Ikon may contract with authorized Canon service providers to enable us to continue to provide any support needed for firmware upgrades, patches, and access to technical support”

So if we apply a little deductive reasoning (ALA Sherlock Holmes) we can conclude what we have long suspected that Ikon does  NOT have access to these things on there own. So some of the smoke (screen) has begun to clear. And it has also become even more apparent just how much the Ikon customers lost when Ikon lost their status as an authorized Canon service provider.

According to their recent letter they lost their ability to directly obtain firmware, patches, or technical support from Canon. But they can hire an Authorized Canon dealers to do all these things for them. REALLY? What Authorized Canon dealer is going to do this for Ikon? Do you really think that an Authorized Canon dealer will help Ikon service Canon MFDs until Ricoh \ Ikon can replace them with Ricoh MFDs? Who would that be? It smells like more smoke to me! They could try and pull a fast one on some customers and bring in a “C-Level” Canon Dealer. A Canon dealer who is not full line authorized, but is only Authorized on the lower end Canon MFDs. But they could say that they have an Authorized dealer under contract, and that would be technically correct. But that would be misleading their loyal Canon customers and Ikon would never do that, would they?

Even if they do pay some full line Canon dealer enough to want to do this for them, how will that work? Well for starters Ikon will likely only bring in an Authorized Canon Dealer as a last resort, because it will be costly? So this will delay the customer from getting their needed firmware, patches, or Canon technical support. And since there will be an added layer of support it will cost more. It will have to just to cover the cost that Ricoh \ Ikon will have to pay to get an authorized Canon Dealer to show up. Once the call does go out, how high of a priority do you think it will be for an authorized Canon dealer to respond to Ricoh \ Ikon’s service request? It’s not like they will have a lot of other options to get authorized Canon service support.

So it’s really not much of a response, but I guess Ikon had to say something? Had to give some response because they got tired of their Canon customers pushing them for the truth about what they no longer had when they lost their authorized status. Customer’s aren’t stupid! They saw right through the last Ikon smoke screen, the one where they said nothing is different, and nothing will change. Since that line of bull didn’t work, they now have moved to the second level of smoke screen. They say that they “MAY” hire an authorized Canon service provider to do for their Canon customer what they can no longer do themselves. Really? Ask them “who”? And get it in writing on Ikon letterhead.

Let’s stop the spin! Even if they actually do hire some mercenary Canon Dealer it will be more expensive, and it will take longer to deliver the Canon service that these customers have paid for. After all when they bought their Canon MFDs and entered in to a service agreement with Ikon they WERE Authorized Canon service providers, and now they are not. So they lost real value when Ikon was purchased by Ricoh. This is no longer in question. The only question I have now is what will Ikon’s Canon customers do about it?

By the Way, the original Canon Ikon letter said that Ikon would receive certain technical support from Canon for at least one year. That letter was dated 10-31-2008, that One year will be up in about a month. Hummm?

That’s my $0.02
Vince McHugh
vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

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Canon to provide multifunction printers to HP

September 20, 2009

Canon to provide MFDs to HP

Here is the Reuters Link, so that you can read the story for yourself. This is a move that a number of industry analysts predicted after Ricoh bought Ikon. No one expected Canon to sit on their hands and not try to take back the market share that Ikon provided to Canon.

HP & Canon are two of the biggest and most respected names, each in their own space. This agreement could have interesting effects on the market place. HP has long desired to enter the MFD space. They have had several of less than successful attempts with the Mopier, and more recently their Edgeline MFD products. But this deal will help HP overcome one of their two major hurdles. It will provide HP with a great product line of MFDs to sell. A product line that is well established and well respected. Initially labeled as Canon MFDs, but eventually HP will put their own label on these MFDs.

But there still remains one other significant hurdle that HP will need to address if they are going to be successful in this space, and that is service. I am talking about MFD service, not traditional printer service. There is a difference between the two. End users have come to expect a 4 hour or less response time for their MFDs. MFDs are typically a little too big to have one in your trunk so you can swap it out, and then repair the printer\MFD when you get a round to it. That won’t work in this space.

Maybe they will take a page out of their Mopier play book. When the Mopier was first introduced HP invited a number of large Independent Canon Dealers to come out to Boise, Idaho and take a look at it. They were looking to put together a ready made service department for their new product. I was one of the people invited by HP to look over the product. Unfortunately the Mopier did not get picked up by a large number of dealers, and those that did pick it up did not have great success. This was a brilliant  move by HP, they just didn’t have a product that would really shine in the MFD market space.

But now they do have a great, proven product line (The full line of Canon MFD products). There are also a number of very large regional independant Canon Dealers that HP could approach to solve their service issue. It could be an interesting discussion for both HP and the large independent Canon dealers. They were smart enough to do it once, but maybe they were just ahead of their time.

That’s my $0.02
Vince McHugh
vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

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IKON – Struggles to flip their Canon customers to Ricoh equipment.

September 1, 2009

As of March 2009, only 20,000 of the Canon’s that IKON had in its MIF (Machines in field) had been replaced by Ricoh product.

IKON still has 300,000 Canon machines in its MIF (a target rich environment for Authorized Canon Dealers)

I think that this illustrates that while it is easy for Ikon to SAY that a Ricoh is just as good as, or better than a Canon, Their customers are not buying it. At least that is what the numbers are saying.

Some will stay with Ikon because they like their Sales Rep, or they like their technician. Or maybe Ikon has spent a lot of money taking that Purchasing Agent to their Luxury Box at a ball game, or on a Golf Trip, and that Purchasing Agent likes the way they are treated. OK, I get that, but what happens when their End Users first see the Ricoh MFDs that they are getting to replace their Canons? We have seen some significant push back from loyal Canon customers. They can make the Purchasing Agents life “hell”! But the initial End User acceptance, or not, of the Ricoh MFDs is only the first hurdle for Ricoh \Ikon. But apparently that is a hurdle that Ikon is struggling with since they have replaced less than 7% of the Canon MIF (as of March 09).

The next big hurdle for Ricoh \ Ikon will be when the first Ricoh equipment lease comes up for renewal. Its easy to flip a lease of a customer that likes you, and likes your product. you can even use the good will that you have built up over the years to get them to trust you when you say “The Ricoh is just as good as the Canon”. But If your Ikon Sales person  is smart they will try to write these leases for 60 or 63 months the first time. Because the further out they go the less the End Users will remember the good old days when they had reliable and easy to use Canon MFDs. That would be good for the Ikon Rep but definitely not for the Purchasing Agent, who will have to live with their hostile end users until the lease is up. When I worked at _BS I was involved in bringing over a couple of good Canon customers to Ricoh. We have recently gotten them back after their first lease expired and they would not even consider renewing with Ricoh equipment. Ricoh was not even invited to bid. That’s how much these customers hated the Ricoh products.

The Authorized Canon Dealers are seeing an influx of loyal Canon customers who previously got their Canon equipment from Ikon. But there have been some (less than 7% according to the numbers above) that have been loyal to Ikon and that’s OK. The Authorized Canon Dealers can afford to be patient, we’ll see you when your first Ricoh \ Ikon lease is over, or has 9 months left. It is amazing the effect a unhappy group of end users can have an a Purchasing Agent. When the End User community “ain’t happy” they tend to make sure that the Purchasing Agent “aint happy either”. We shall see!

That’s my $0.02
Vince McHugh
vince.mchugh@yahoo.com