You have been a regular participant at the PrintExpo. What makes you come back to the exhibition every year?
First and foremost, I think it is one of the largest print expositions that we have been to, with a special focus on digital. Also, the exhibition has grown over time and people now sort of relate PrintExpo with product launches, etc. Digital vendors have a big presence here. If you look at the brands around you and if you look at the stalls, you feel that this is a digital-focused show. That’s why we come here again and again.
Did you launch any new products?
We did not launch a whole product per se, but several new applications and accessories were introduced. Specifically, with the Imagepress C850 series, for the first time, we are showcasing a paper deck from which you can do duplex printing up to 300gsm and the paper size that can be used is a large paper deck of 13x30-inches. This is a unique application. Also, in wide-format, we showcased the Imageprograf TX series inkjet printers, specifically for CAD/CAM and GIS applications, as well as graphic arts application. It’s a versatile multifunction printer and we showcased it for the first time in India at PrintExpo.
How has the southern market been for Canon?
For digital, it is a prominent market. So, I think, the overall contribution of the market in the digital printing space could be close to 35-40% of the total market. That makes it one of the largest markets. Usually, the southern market contributes to over 27% or 28% of the total market when it comes to IT and ITES related products but specifically for digital printing in various domains, whether it is cut-sheet or wide-format, we see a significant increase.
What about Canon’s market share?
We are in line with the market. About 35-40% of our sales happen in the south of India.
Can you tell us more about Canon’s performance in the previous year in South India and Tamil Nadu in particular?
We are so positive about this market that last year we added more manpower and strengthened our distribution channel. It goes to show our commitment to this region and to the potential it holds.
Out of all regions in the south, Tamil Nadu has been our major forte. All the large digital print chains in Tamil Nadu have always been a 100% Canon-driven companies with almost all the product ranges we have. Whether it is Penguin Xerox or Adyar Student Xerox, they have been our partners and customers for quite some time. As they grow, we grow with them. Even other top printers, whether it is Shiva Prints or several other digital printers, are also with Canon. When you look at the pyramid, Canon would have a very strong and significant presence with most of the top players.
The competition has been growing and especially there is a growing interest in the B2 size market. What is your take on the future of the B2 size market and Canon’s strategy for the particular segment?
Whether it is B2 or B3, we have different existing product ranges. In B3, Oce has launched the product called i300, which is a cut-sheet inkjet press. We have not yet launched it in India. We are studying the possibilities. This is a versatile, first-in-the-market cut-sheet B3 size inkjet press that is media insensitive. You are aware, the moment we talk about inkjet, we have to have treated or coated media, but this is one machine that can print on most media, including most of the offset stocks. In B2, we have the Voyager, which is actually the B2+ machine. It is high on quality and the machine specifications are progressing every day for the better. It is not globally launched yet. We had showcased this in Drupa last year as a prototype and now we are on the verge of culminating it into a product.
When it comes to the Oce Varioprint i300, is there an expected timeline for launch in India?
We are studying the feasibility of the press because in India, the run cost or the value proposition is an important factor and it becomes slightly difficult for the digital players to develop a ROI when offset run cost are among the cheapest in the world. We really would have to map it down to the segments that we are targeting with this product, the break-evens the customers are looking at, etc. We have already got installs in Singapore. So it’s just a matter of time before we bring it to India.
What has been the most successful model in south India?
I would say light to medium digital presses. For example, we sell the C850 series a lot because it has small footprint. We have also significant installs of C10000 and 8000 and they are growing. Our ipf series is also doing phenomenally well. So south has been a very good market for us overall.
Any unique application that you’ve seen your customers do, which you think a Canon press can do better than its competitors?
There are lots. There are customers doing wedding cards on our machine. There are people who do unique applications using textured media on C10000. There are unique coffee table books. Some people have started toying with the idea of a packaging proof being done on C10000 because it can take those varied media. So actual packaging proof on a digital can be shown to the customers before they go ahead with the actual runs. So I think as the technology is getting better and better, the number of applications are not doubling or tripling, they are only limited via the imagination and the creativity a printer has.