Noel D’cunha (ND): After 1,000 installations in India; and three partners, why this decision to partner with TechNova?
Tadahiko Sumitani (TS): We are expecting a good growth both in revenue and market share; as compared to last year. Konica Minolta (KM) has very ambitious plans for India. We want to reach out to all the segments and in every part of the country, though we are glad with the efforts put in by the current partners. We have learned that “printing industry” is huge, and we are working within a very limited market. As a principle, we are penetrating into printing market, and surely the know-how and skill which TechNova already has, will be very beneficial to our relationship. We are thinking about a mid- and long-term relationship. As you know India is a big country and has a huge potential. TechNova has the maximum reach in the Indian graphic arts community. The team is enthusiastic and technology savvy. The decision to partner with TechNova is mutual and we both understand the strengths of the relationship.
ND: Konica Minolta entered the Indian market with entry-level kit. Last year it introduced its first mid-production press, KM C8000. At Drupa, there was the new B2 inkjet (codenamed KM-1), which was showcased. Not much coming from the KM stable though?
TS: We have been selling our production printers in the country for more than five years now. We introduced the C8000 in 2011 but most of the installation started in 2012. We also have printing and production workflow solutions to complement our machines.
ND: A lot of manufacturers in the graphics business are spending heavily on R&D, resulting in new launches or upgrades. What is happening at the R&D centre of KM? How much have they spent and what’s KM commitment to this sector?
TS: KM’s core strength has always been its R&D. Konica Minolta was the first company to introduce biomass toner technology in 2000. Besides the toner technology, KM group had a history of more than one century in the field of imaging and reproduction by camera and film. Our R&D team is constantly working to upgrade and introduce new technologies. Besides the B2 size inkjet, we are upgrading our existing range of toner-based machines. At Drupa, we had showcased an upgrade of C8000 to C1100, which runs at 100 ppm rated speed and can take media thickness of up to 350gsm. As for mono presses we had showcased a 250 ppm black and white high production printer in utilising tandem technology.
ND: Post Drupa, what are the key aspects that have set Konica Minolta apart in India?
TS: KM is a late entrant in India. We started our direct operations in 2010 as compared to the other companies who are providing their products for more than two decades. Drupa has helped KM business in India by improving the perceived image about the company and its solutions, customers are more confident on KM products and solutions and are looking forward for the new products displayed in Drupa.
ND: With inkjet still at developmental stage at KM, what kind of expectation print shop should have from KM digital toner printing systems?
TS: Today, most of the print shops are working towards improving the threshold between the offset and digital. KM has helped in bridging the gap to extent and are committed to take it further, helping our customers and partners to be more profitable. Though inkjet looks promising, it will take some time before commercial applications are possible in the country.
ND: Toner-based electrophotography (EP) and inkjet technologies have received warm reception from the print industry. Do you think that the print buyers in future will increasingly opt for digitally produced prints and why?
TS: Digital has its advantages. In India, the digital printing volumes are increasing. Customers are looking for short runs and faster turnaround time. Digital dry toner based technology which helps them in achieving the same, moreover the total footprint required for this machine is better.
ND: Once developed and introduced into the Indian market, do you think inkjet print business will change Konica Minolta’s business approach?
TS: We are currently studying the Indian market which is very positive to the inkjet technology.
ND: New developments mean the printing market is changing very fast. How do the print service providers meet the new challenges of transforming their businesses beyond increasingly competitive, commoditised print?
TS: The customers expectation from print service providers is to provide complete solutions to the end customer right from designing to the final delivery. Some of the print service providers are now working as solution providers who support their end customers not only in printing but in all the processes of document life cycle.
ND: According to one report at Drupa, print service providers are missing opportunities to sell value-added products and services. A large number of PSPs surveyed knew nothing of the scope of short-run publishing, for example. The ignorance would be much deeper in the Indian digital print business. Isn’t it an intriguing situation?
TS: Short-run publishing is already present in the country and almost all the major publishers are using the print service providers for small runs. The printing industry is still developing the break-even point between the digital and offset which is still lower in India as compared to the developed countries. Now the customers are recognising the comforts and ease of doing short runs on digital. The book on demand market is increasing in the US/European market and the trend is catching up in India too.
ND: How does business look for 2013? Any particular challenges or opportunities?
TS: We have a good momentum going. We started with Rs 115 crore in 2011 and Rs 200 crore in 2012. We are hoping to continue with a such trend in 2013 as well.