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Xerox extends its range of ‘third party’ supplies for branded laser devices with Kyocera compatibles

Issue #0914/1 – “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” – so goes the old saying – and printer/copier giant Xerox has extended this honour to Kyocera with the release of a range of Xerox-branded third party supplies for Kyocera laser printers. Claiming 20% savings and Xerox quality, we check out the savings.

Adding to its existing range of Hewlett-Packard and Brother compatibles, Xerox hopes to capitalise on Kyocera’s ECOSYS environmental credentials by capturing aftermarket supplies sales without incurring the cost of developing the hardware.

In a few instances Xerox offers a higher yield for its compatible cartridge than the OEM offers on the original – up to 10%. For instance, the yield of a Xerox compatible for the Hewlett-Packard series 4 and 5 laser printers (high yield cartridges) is rated at 9,800 pages in comparison to the 8,800-page rating of the original (11%) and the Xerox cartridge for the LaserJet 4250 and 4350 printers are over-specified by 10% at 22,000 pages instead of 20,000 pages.

Xerox’s pricing for these two cartridges (direct sale) is £55.79 and £117.67 compared to the Hewlett-Packard MRSP prices of £105.99 and £241.99 respectively – representing a nominal saving of 47% and 51%! By the time we bring street pricing into the equation (see table below), the saving on the LaserJet 4/5 cartridge is a phenomenal 62% – and then there is the fact that the Xerox compatible cartridge also contains 10% more toner than the Hewlett-Packard original. This means that the effective saving is 66%.

However, note that the reseller in question is actually selling the Xerox compatible for the LaserJet 4250/4350 at a higher price (8%) than Xerox itself sells the cartridge.

Take a look at the table below for an idea of some of the potential savings.

Street Pricing – UK Unit OEM original Xerox compatible Saving
HP-12xx and 14xx families
Black toner £61.98 £41.00 34%
HP-12xx and 14xx families
Black drum £109.23 £79.00 28%
HP-7050 series
Black toner £73.42 £50.16 32%
HP-7050 series
Black drum £81.83 £49.75 39%
LaserJet 4/5 series
Black toner
(Xerox +10%)
£80.55 £30.62 62%
LaserJet 4250/4350 series
Black toner
(Xerox +10%)
£154.00 £127.00 17%
Colour LaserJet 4600/4650
Black toner £118.00 £89.00 25%
Colour LaserJet 4600/4650
C / M / Y toners £163.00 £118.00 £28%

Note: All prices are taken from one store to ensure direct comparison and are exclusive of tax.

Because the Kyocera range of Xerox compatibles is so new, we are not seeing them in the channel as yet. So, for comparison, the following table shows the Xerox direct price and the Kyocera RRP for each of four units.

Manufacturer Pricing – UK Unit OEM original Xerox compatible Saving
Black toner £59.61 £55.88 6%
Black drum £65.17 £61.09 6%
Black toner £65.46 £63.24 3%
Black drum £112.68 £105.63 6%

Note: All prices are exclusive of tax.

What do we notice? Because Kyocera’s business model is to make a clear profit on the hardware without loading cost onto the aftermarket toners, Xerox is unable to undercut Kyocera by more than a few percent – 20% savings are certainly not in evidence here! Once these units hit the channel, there may a slightly higher differential but savings will never match those found amongst the units for the other two manufacturers.

In reality, this begs the question, “why has Xerox introduced this range”? The savings just are not high enough to be attractive. We can only assume that Xerox considers the potential for sales volume is high enough to make a good business justification!

Why buy third party?
Most people buy third party supplies for one reason only – the need (or desire) to save money. This is a perfectly reasonable motive. However, it can so easily backfire. Experience and anecdotal evidence suggests that print quality and yield can very easily suffer and I personally have experienced a third party cartridge that simply didn’t fit into the printer well enough to stop it popping out of position regularly and stalling the printer! Big hassle and it had to be rejected!

Once a user has experienced this kind of hassle on a couple of occasions, there is a very high probability that the third party route will not be followed again.

So, what are the benefits of buying third party cartridges from Xerox?

First and foremost, Xerox is a world leading brand that has been involved in toner printing technology for more than half a century and has brought its experience and manufacturing expertise to bear in its compatible supplies. These are only part-remanufactured – even though the cartridge casings are re-used from exhausted cartridges collected under Xerox’s cartridge collection program, the mechanics inside the casings are new manufacture (mechanical parts are recycled not re-used).

And, secondly, Xerox offers a couple of rather important assurances to its customers:

  • “If a Xerox cartridge does not provide the stated quality and print yield, Xerox will replace the cartridge or refund your purchase price within one year of purchase”
  • “If a Xerox cartridge causes damage to a printer that can be traced back to the fault of the Xerox cartridge, Xerox will reimburse you for all service costs incurred to repair the printer”

(Quotes from reseller website)

But, even excluding the technical difficulties referred to above, there is so often a downside!

No third party manufacturer can ever cater for every printer ever produced by the OEM. So, they have to concentrate on those that are likely to bring in the highest sales and highest revenues. Furthermore, compatibles cannot be brought to market for several months after the launch of a new model from an OEM for at least one of two reasons. Firstly, the third party needs time to develop its own compatible or, secondly, an adequate supply of used cartridges needs to find its way into the third party’s hands in order for remanufacturing to become a feasibility.

In addition, cartridge management chips increase the difficulty and time scale involved in bringing a third party product to market, even though they do not make it impossible.

What these factors mean in reality is that printers that can be served by third party supplies are rarely the latest models. In fact, where Xerox is concerned, it is very much a case of catering for the legacy products and not the current, or even recent, ranges.

For instance, Xerox has compatible toners for only one of Hewlett-Packard’s CM laser printers (CM4005) and for none of the colour laser AiO or MFP products. In the case of Kyocera printers, because the cartridges do not contain any technology (no drum or developer), it has been possible to create cartridges for some of the fairly recent products, including one current low-end mono model, the FS-1030D. However, none of the newer generations are catered for and certainly none of the colour models.

Similarly, in terms of Brother compatibles, Xerox offers units for several current models of mono laser printer and for several models of mono laser AiO – but none the most recent generation and no colour models. Both toner and drum units are available, where relevant.

So, if you are buying a latest-generation new printer from any of these OEM manufacturers, you won’t be able to buy Xerox third party supplies for it for some time to come. However, if you already have an ageing (or even not-so-ageing) printer, then you can potentially save a considerable amount on your printing by buying Xerox third party compatible supplies with the assurance that Xerox will guarantee both the toner unit itself and the printer against damage from using that toner, also with a promise that print quality will not suffer.

Coming back to Kyocera, this introduction by Xerox confirms Kyocera’s place as a significant leader in the laser printer market, in a category with only Hewlett-Packard and Brother as worthy of attention for Xerox branded third party supplies. It does also, of course, give Kyocera a new challenge – to fend off the new attack and retain the loyalty of its customer base even though it has faced competition from other third party supplies manufacturers for some years.

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