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An Interview with Kim Beswick, President, Memjet Office

We have spent a lot of time covering San Diego, CA-based Memjet over the past few years, and rightly so, as they have gained significant influence in the printing market. We first met Kim Beswick, then the VP of Marketing, back in March 2010, before the company had really introduced its ultra-fast print head. We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Ms. Beswick again, who now holds the title of President of Memjet Office. Below is the transcript from our interview.

1) When we last spoke back in 2010, Memjet was really just beginning to create some buzz in the industry. Now Memjet has become the disruptor the company predicted all along. How did you do it?
The foundation of the disruption is the technology we developed. We have a printhead that is STILL the fastest in the world in the office space and breakthrough price performance up into the commercial print space. We combine a large number of nozzles into a print head which is smaller and more cost effective than the competition, but delivers ink very quickly.

Our strategy is based around partnerships. We partner with the OEMS in the industry to create new value. It is our technology, but they own the whole product commercialization, marketing, sales etc. It’s the partnering model that creates the diversity in the market and makes the disruption both exciting and powerful.

We are in several different markets today; office workgroup, desktop and labels presses, and wide format machines and commercial presses, each with unique value. It’s not just speed or cost or color printing, but it’s how we are able to combine these together to drive new efficiencies and new options for printing fast or printing short run color that is exciting. When we add the unique vision and capability of our partners into the equation, our ability to create value and deliver new choices to the industry multiplies. In the wide-format space you have industry veteran?s like Océ and Xante operating in completely different market categories —roll-to-roll graphics vs. short run packaging—even though they have leveraged a common print-engine structure. Delivering a flexible model that embraces the ideas and capabilities of our partners is powerful for us and for them.

2) I know we've covered this in some detail with the article we wrote about your presentation). We also spoke about your predictions for the printing industry. Once again, you were dead on. What do you think has helped color gain further relevance in office printing?
Well, it’s a couple of things. For starters, we needed a new technology because color laser is complex, with lots of technology, lots of moving parts and expensive consumables. Inkjet is truthfully a more efficient way to deliver color. A monochrome laser does provide a low cost per page—down to a penny or less in some instances. What we wanted to do was to drive a solid economic value proposition for color ink in the office in order to drive the next wave of color pages.

Page wide ink combines both speed and color together in one unit while keeping running costs down. Inkjet printing has been well established in the consumer space, but there just hasn?t been the robustness or speed to compete in the office. Page-wide printheads change this dynamic and create a new category of ink based technologies for the office. By lowering costs significantly vs. color laser and delivering fast solutions we provide new choices to office customers. Now office customers printing on aging monochrome laser printers have a more cost effective choice for printing in color—that’s not 15 cents or 10 cents but perhaps 4-6 cents. We assume that everyone wants to print in color and that 70-80% of office content is color content. It’s just a matter of giving them a reasonable way to print these pages as they are—in color.

3) I know Memjet has traditionally been more about finding partnerships with other vendors who want to license Memjet's printing technology. Considering the boom in smartphones, is Memjet thinking any more about mobile or wireless printing?
Absolutely. When you think about the office space, the products we have today have a good value proposition. Right now we can accomplish wireless and Airprint connections with third party solutions even though these features are not integrated into our printers. You will see new functionality appear as we introduce both new partners and new print engines in the future. We will continue to focus on core functionality and let our partners bring in the software solutions that are already integrated into their product line.

4)It’s still amazing to look and see how many patents Memjet has acquired. What kind of a pace are you pursuing them at nowadays, and how many do you have?
We have an amazing base of over 4000 patents and are continuing to cull and build that base both for Memjet and our partners. Patents support the commercialization of our technology. They will be an active part of our technology development going forward.

5) You were dead on with your predictions last time (in fact it happened inside of 5 years), so we'd like to ask you again to talk about where Memjet wants to be in 5 years time and where you think the industry will be?
I actually think the trend is still just beginning. There is a whole lot more momentum to be generated and we?re really just beginning to influence office printing. On a macroeconmic level, the healthier economic structure is good for everyone. There is competition in the page wide ink category for the office further legitimizing the idea that ink should replace Laser as the next preferred office printing choice. Ink has become part of the value conversation. People who are managing technology and considering where they want their document infrastructure to be in the future are considering ink.

One trend that I am seeing that could be quite exciting over the next few years is a shift towards simpler “All-in” contract models. We have partners like Renttheprinter.com who are bundling devices and mono and color pages into one simple monthly contract price with a very low cost per page. These contract types are more like phone contracts than the printer contracts we see today. I call this type of model “all-in” but whatever you call it it’s a great alternative to more complex models—especially for small business customers who are used to monthly phone bills, monthly software services, monthly rental fees for equipment they need.

 

Today traditional channel partners are selling certain numbers of mono pages and color pages at different prices for a given month in complex MPS contracts. A “one rate” office structure, makes the cost predictable regardless of whether the page is color or monochrome and actually encourages color printing. Businesses like that they can print what they want. Affordable and ink based systems are a profitable way to deliver this model for resellers. If this takes off it will drive new color pages for customers and new profits for resellers.