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Kyocera enters the A4 colour personal/small workgroup MFP sector with a third party engine that cannot match ECOSYS cost-effectiveness (for Kyocera)

Issue #0919 – As Kyocera enters the A4 small colour MFP market, the offering is well-specified and competent but lacking the edge offered by ECOSYS technology for low Total Cost of Printing. The FS-C1020MFP is overshadowed by Ricoh’s own use of the same engine in the SP C232SF, proving to be a clear winner on hardware purchase and Cost of Printing.

Kyocera has held back from this category up to now because it is still a relatively small segment, although now growing fast. There has been a reluctance to invest in the development of a small workgroup colour MFP until a certain critical mass was achieved in the market. In this instance, we see the company finding that it needs an A4 MFP product to complement its wider product range but with no ECOSYS-based machine ready – hence buying in an engine from Ricoh.

Kyocera FS-C1020MFPKyocera FS-C1020MFP

What this means in practice is that Kyocera is contributing to another manufacturer’s development costs and, although not exclusively true, it is the norm for devices sold under an OEM deal to cost more than the model marketed by the OEM itself.

In the current 20ppm line-up, not only do we find that there are appropriate products on the market now from twice as many manufacturers than in December 2008 but also that there have been a couple of refresh products from the manufacturers that did have a product in this sector at that time. This is a clear indication that the sector is growing up fast.

Although Kyocera does not have its own engine in an MFP product yet, the company indicates that it is preparing an ECOSYS model. It would be very surprising for this model to reach the market before the second quarter of next year.

More significantly for right now though, quite clearly, Kyocera has been able to do a good deal with Ricoh on this engine. Just look at the purchase prices in the chart below. The two Ricoh-engined products are being sold at the lowest prices, with even Kyocera (not know for its low-priced hardware) undercutting even Lexmark (infamous for its low-priced hardware) by nearly 12%.

Note: all prices used in this comparison are taken from a single UK reseller – including prices for the Dell model (no Euro pricing available for the FS-1020MFP yet).

Hardware Purchase

20ppm A4 Personal/Small Workgroup MFPs

Ricoh SP C232SFRicoh SP C232SF

For copier-based Ricoh to come into this space at such a low price is very significant and a real challenge to the industry. And there are more surprises to come because, although Ricoh has manufactured printers for some years, the company’s entry into the mainstream small workgroup MFP sector does not mean that Ricoh is going to play by the rules of the game that we have come to expect from low-price players such as Lexmark.

For Kyocera, this also means that there is the opportunity to manage this product in such a way that it does fall fully into the trap that Lexmark and others tend to fall into – and it is probably significant that Kyocera has chosen copier-based Ricoh as a partner. What I mean is that the hardware is selling at the lowest costs in the sector but the supplies prices are not pushing nominal Cost Per Page to top of the scale as seen with Lexmark, in particular.

In the chart below, we see that Ricoh supplies are selling at prices that bring the nominal CPP for both black printing and colour printing to a position well below all of the competition and this rolls forwards to produce a long-term Total Cost of Printing that is also the lowest in the line-up – impressive.

Total Cost of Printing

20ppm A4 Personal/Small Workgroup MFPs

Note that for this level of machine, the mixed mono/colour CPP over three years shown in the accompanying table is calculated on the basis of 1,500 pages per month; 70% pages in mono and 30% pages in colour; is based on the use of maximum capacity supplies; takes into account any standard, or starter, supplies shipped with the device; and also includes the cost of purchase. All prices are Typical Street Price without tax, sourced in the UK.

For Kyocera, nominal CPPs fall in the middle of the range, competitive with most players but not in any sense challenging the most cost effective of the players. Oki and Samsung both undercut Kyocera by a good margin all round and Konica Minolta is also able to undercut Kyocera on long-term Total Cost of Printing because its transfer and fuser-related items (that push up the nominal CPP figures) are not required until a high page count is reached (well over 3,000 pages per month).

As we produce a chart for a range of monthly page volumes over three years, we see Ricoh dominating the low end of Cost of Printing scale by the sort margin that Kyocera normally enjoys.

None of the other machines seriously challenge the Ricoh SP C232SF but those coming closest are the Oki MC560dn, Konica Minolta mc4690MF and Samsung CLX-6200FX. Unsurprisingly, it is Hewlett-Packard’s Colour LaserJet CM2320nfxi and Lexmark’s X544dn that occupy the most significant slots at the other end of the scale.

Total Cost of Printing

20ppm A4 Personal/Small Workgroup MFPs

What is particularly interesting in this sector is that all of the products are almost identical in their technical specifications. There is nothing that clearly makes any one stand out against the competition in the way that we find with some other types of printer and MFP. This means that a purchase decision can happily be made on Total Cost of Ownership without serious danger of compromising technical ability or functionality.

Kyocera, then, is not likely to suffer unduly from taking another manufacturer’s engine for its first step into this sector and we can look forward to prospect of a future personal MFP with an ECOSYS engine.

One error is made in Kyocera’s press release, however. A reference is made to “Kyocera’s renowned low running costs” with reference to this MFP. It only takes a glance at the charts above to realise that this just is not true for this device, with the machine sitting fairly and squarely in the middle of the group, purely and simply because it is not a Kyocera ECOSYS engine. For what it is, the FS-C1020MFP is as attractive a system as most but cannot in any sense compete with Ricoh on Total Cost of Printing.

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