Actionable Intelligence’s Top 10 Stories of 2017

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by Christina Bonadio, Executive Editor, Actionable Intelligence

It’s that time of the year once again! Every December, as the year comes to an end, I like to take a look back at Actionable Intelligence’s most popular articles of the year to see what insights can be gleaned from what our readers were busy reading.

Here are Actionable Intelligence’s top 10 stories of 2017.

  1. Xerox Previews VersaLink and AltaLink Portfolio
  2. Is HP up to Its Same Old Firmware Tricks?
  3. HP Shares Insight into What It Is—and Isn’t—Doing with Dynamic Security in Its Inkjet Printer Firmware
  4. U.S. Supreme Court Sides with Impression Products and against Lexmark on Patent-Exhaustion Questions
  5. HP Expands Sprocket Line with 2-in-1 and Plus Models
  6. Ninestar Report Discusses Importance of R&D and Lexmark Acquisition
  7. Fasten Your Seatbelt: HP Signs A3 Dealers, Aims to Displace Kyocera, Sharp, and Toshiba
  8. HP’s A3 Business Is Now Open
  9. Canon Awarded Nearly $4.5 Million in Toner Bottle Lawsuit against Color Imaging and General Plastic
  10. Apex’s Dilemma Regarding Potential SCOTUS Rulings in Upcoming Lexmark Case

One thing I found particularly gratifying about this year’s list is that more articles about new printer hardware made the top 10 list. For years now, I have been exhorting readers in articles like this one, email newsletters, and elsewhere to read our Product Briefings—they go far beyond the press release and, in my view, are some of the best articles covering new hardware out there in the marketplace today. So I was pleased to see the inclusion of more hardware stories on our 2017 list.

Our in-depth look at Xerox’s new VersaLink and AltaLink hardware and the supplies used in these machines was our most popular article this year. With Xerox busy promoting its introduction of these new machines as the biggest product launch in the company history, interest in these new devices was keen. For more on the product launch event and the strategy behind the new hardware, I also recommend reading “Xerox Unveils New ConnectKey Technology, Fleet of VersaLink and AltaLink MFPs, and Growth Strategy.”

HP’s expansion of its Sprocket pocket-sized printer lineup also cracked the top 10, coming in at number five. HP has talked a lot over the past year about the Sprocket, the strong sales HP is seeing of these devices, how products like the Sprocket are reigniting the home printing market, and how HP is introducing printing to a new generation of customers with the Sprocket. But by expanding the line, HP is demonstrating that the firm expects this will remain a hot product category and a driver of growth.

One thing that stuck us as incredibly odd about last year’s top 10 list is that none of our articles about HP’s decision to purchase Samsung’s printing business and enter the A3 MFP market made the top 10. This was clearly huge news and, while readers tuned into these articles, they were less popular than some of our other articles, including several on Ninestar/Apex Technology’s acquisition of Lexmark. But this year, perhaps due to new HP A3 hardware actually rolling out into the marketplace and HP completing its acquisition of Samsung, more readers delved into this topic. Our seventh and eighth most popular stories were about HP’s entry into the A3 market, and if you want in-depth coverage of the hardware, we have that as well  (see “A Look at HP’s New A3 LaserJet and PageWide Hardware” and “A Look at HP’s New A3 PageWide Printers and MFPs”).

The overwhelming interest we saw last year in Lexmark’s acquisition by Ninestar/Apex continued in 2017. Our sixth most popular article focused on a while paper that Ninestar released about its research and development (R&D), its development of intellectual property (IP), and the company’s belief that its history of innovation is behind its success. In the white paper, Ninestar also discussed how the acquisition of Lexmark expanded its IP portfolio and its revamped business structure following Lexmark’s acquisition.

Another trend that we noted in our 2016 top 10 list that continued in 2017 was the popularity of articles on HP firmware with a “dynamic security feature” timed to go off and disable third-party cartridges using third-party chips. That was big news in 2016, and it appears that the same thing happened again in 2017 to certain HP inkjet models that had older firmware installed. Our second and third most popular articles of the past year were devoted to this topic.

Actionable Intelligence’s legal coverage always makes the top 10 list. This year, our most-read Courthouse Briefings were big news, but for different reasons.

Our fourth and tenth most popular articles focused on the U.S. Supreme Court weighing in on the patent dispute between Lexmark and Impression Products. The Supreme Court decided to overturn existing decisions on patent exhaustion and rule that patents are exhausted on first sale regardless of either where that sale takes place or any restrictions the patentee imposes. That marks a major change for the cartridge-manufacturing industry, for OEMs, and for patent laws and their enforcement in the United States. While our fourth most popular article explored the Supreme Court opinion, the tenth most popular article, written before the decision was in, explored why the case posed an interesting dilemma for Lexmark’s new owner, Ninestar/Apex Technology, which is a major player in the remanufacturing industry.

Our ninth most popular article was about Canon’s win in a patent-infringement lawsuit against Color Imaging and General Plastic Industrial (GPI). Folks were interested in the resolution of this case because it had been ongoing for six years, but the fact that Canon was awarded nearly $4.5 million also drew eyeballs. And while the jury’s verdict is in, the case isn’t over. Canon is seeking millions more in enhanced damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs, and the defendants have indicated they will appeal.

One trend that was clearly on display in 2017 is not reflected in our top 10 list. HP’s purchase of Samsung’s printing business was the big acquisition that took place in 2017, but 2017 was chock-full of lots of other acquisition as well: Print-Rite acquired Pelikan’s cartridge business (see “Print-Rite Acquires Rights to Pelikan Cartridge Brand”), GPI announced it would purchase Katun (see “General Plastic Industrial (GPI) to Acquire Katun”), and Konica Minolta acquired Muratec America (see “Konica Minolta Acquires Muratec America”). And those are just a few—there were many other examples of industry consolidation, including lots of wheeling and dealing in the office-equipment channels.

What Actionable Intelligence President Charles Brewer likes to call the “urge to merge” is something we expect to continue in 2018. We also suspect we may see more new lawsuits filed next year between OEMs and the aftermarket, but that’s just a hunch.

For all their help in enabling us to cover this ever-changing, always-fascinating industry, Charlie B. and I would like to thank our tiny but talented team. Many of the Actionable Intelligence articles published on this site over the past year were written by Dan Headrick, contributing editor at Actionable Intelligence, and Marisa Mogni, who not only writes but also lends Actionable Intelligence her editing talent. Melanie Merritt, aka “Media Melanie,” is our social media expert and helps bring all our content to your attention. Thank you, team Actionable Intelligence!

And last but certainly not least, thank you and happy holidays to our Actionable Intelligence subscribers. You are the smartest, most loyal, most outspoken bunch, and you make the whole Actionable Intelligence endeavor worthwhile.

Let’s all do even more in 2018!

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