When I shared Actionable Intelligence’s lists of the top 10 stories of 2020 and 2021, both years were overshadowed by COVID-19 and the resulting upheaval in consumer and business demand and the supply chain (see “Actionable Intelligence’s Top 10 Stories of 2020” and “Actionable Intelligence’s Top 10 Stories of 2021”). Unfortunately, the turmoil that got its start nearly three years ago continued in 2022. Although product shortages gradually eased over the course of the year, low inventory of printers and MFPs stemming from the global semiconductor shortage limited OEMs’ opportunities for growth. Meanwhile, the strong demand for printers and supplies for working from home that OEMs and third-party supplies vendors experienced earlier in the pandemic waned as workers returned to the office. And while workers returning to the office meant more office printing than during the initial lockdowns, print volumes are still down significantly from pre-pandemic levels and aren’t expected to ever return to where they once were.
Those overarching dynamics made for a year packed full of change. Companies exited certain markets or businesses. Printing equipment and supplies companies looked to grow in areas outside print, even as they continued to launch innovative new hardware and supplies. We saw more focus than ever before on sustainability and environmental issues surrounding print. And, as has been the case for years now, the fight for supplies market share between OEMs and third-party supplies vendors continued. One key battlefield in that broader war is over printer firmware and third-party chips, with OEMs pushing firmware updates that can prevent the use of third-party cartridges with third-party chips and chipmakers looking to combat this via reprogrammable chips that can be rapidly updated.
Top 10 Stories of 2022
- Clover to Exit European Market: You heard it here first! In an Actionable Intelligence exclusive, Clover Imaging Group shared the news that it would be exiting the European market to focus on its business in the Americas.
- HP Bug Bounty Program Finds Reprogrammable Chips Open Printers to Malware: Our second-most popular post was really a follow-up to one of our Top 10 posts from last year. In 2021, HP shared with Actionable Intelligence that it believed reprogrammable third-party chips could be used to inkjet malware into printers and pose a major security concern. In a 2022 update, HP revealed that Bug Bounty hackers were able to do exactly that using an off-the-shelf third-party inkjet cartridge.
- Epson Settles with Plaintiff John Galgon in Inkjet Firmware Dispute: Epson was able to get a class action filed against it by John Galgon over firmware updates that prevent printing from third-party inkjet cartridges sent from district court to arbitration. However, the arbitrators never had to reach a decision because the parties settled.
- HP Acquires Choose Packaging to Develop Zero-Plastic Bottles and Packaging: In an acquisition aimed at growing into the sustainable packaging business, HP bought Choose Packaging, maker of the world’s only commercially available paper-based bottle with zero plastic.
- OEMs Feel Pressure on Revenue and Profits as Supply-Chain Trouble Persists: I was very pleased to see that one of our summaries of OEMs’ financial performance finally cracked the annual top 10 list. If you haven’t been checking out our quarterly tables, charts, and analysis of how various companies’ printing businesses fared, you are missing out on a wealth of free data.
- Clover Acquires Phoenix Direct to Diversify Beyond Supplies: One of Clover’s first big moves after exiting the European market was to expand into a business completely outside the imaging supplies industry. The remanufacturer acquired Phoenix Direct, a direct to consumer e-commerce fulfillment business focused on apparel.
- Xerox’s Eloque Bridge-Sensor Joint Venture Crashes and Burns: Xerox abruptly shut down its much-heralded Eloque joint venture, which aimed to use fiber-optic sensors and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology to monitor the structural health of bridges.
- Goodbye Voluntary Agreement on Imaging Equipment, Hello European Regulation: On March 30, the European Commission decided not to endorse the Voluntary Agreement on Imaging Equipment because it “would not achieve the objectives considered in the Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP), and cannot be considered compliant with the guidelines on self-regulatory instruments in particular regarding the possible re-use of consumables.” Instead, the European Commission will prepare regulations for imaging equipment and supplies.
- HP Launches Improved A3 LaserJet Managed MFP Portfolio: HP launched the LaserJet Managed E700 and E800 series, which replaces most of the Samsung-based A3 MFPs HP introduced in 2017 after purchasing Samsung’s printer business for $1.05 billion.
- HP’s LaserJet M110 and M140 Series Introduces New Cartridge, Supports HP+: Xavier Garcia, global head of print hardware systems at HP, discussed HP’s rollout of the entry-level LaserJet M110 and M140.
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Wishing you all a successful 2023.
—Christina Bonadio, Executive Editor, Actionable Intelligence