Last fall at their Global Partner Conference in Boston, HP Inc. announced it was acquiring Samsung’s printer business for $1.05 billion, in a deal expected to close by the end of 2017. The acquisition was all about boosting HP’s minor presence in A3 printers – machines which can print documents or media larger than conventional A4 pages – and building their share up to the ballpark of the 40 per cent share they have in A4 printers. At the same time, they announced 16 new A3 printers, and most of those shipped this week.
While the Samsung deal has not closed, thirteen of these new machines were originally from Samsung, with HP obtaining their use now through a separate licensing agreement. They have been since been beefed up with technology from HP’s A4 machines – ergo the delay in bringing them to market. These machines all shipped this week. The three additional ones are HP PageWide machines, and these will ship in May, as per schedule.
“This is a very intensive and exciting week for us,” said Aurelio Maruggi, Vice President and General Manager at HP. “We are where we are on A3 because we have realized the ingredients needed to be a successful player in this market. We know this is a journey to get to where we want to be. But we will double down where we are successful and be nimble in making changes where we are not, in order to enable our channel partners to be successful.”
At the time of the Samsung deal HP had a meagre five per cent share of the A3 market, and the company stressed when the deal was made that the goal was to bust into this sector now dominated by the copier dealers, and grow share exponentially to the 40 per cent range. Maruggi detailed how over the seven months since then, HP has put the elements in place to enhance their go-to-market strategy and maximize their chances of success.
“Our strategy here remains consistent and has three parts,” Maruggi said. “First, we finally added a portfolio that is competitive in the marketplace. We were marginal before because our portfolio lacked basic things like speed ranges and paper handling compared to our competition.”
The second pillar, Maruggi stated, was enhancing that portfolio acquired from Samsung with HP’s own technologies.
“Because we had the advantage of developing from the ground up, we were able to add our own unique technologies, taking advantage of the latest and greatest technology, especially in security,” he said. “Our PageWide technology also provides differentiation.
The third component of the strategy was developing better go-to-market tools and processes – which included recruiting a strong channel.
“We spent a lot of time on this,” Maruggi indicated. “One reason we were not successful before was because our go-to-market was not clearly thought through, so over the past several months we have developed better sales, enablement, service and support. This was essential to attract strong partners from the traditional copier channel, and at a country level, we identified these prospective partners who share our vision of HP.”
The result is that they have lined up a channel of more than 500 partners globally.
“Some of these were old HP partners, but the majority are new to HP, and came from the traditional copier channel,” Maruggi said. “They are not traditional HP partners.”
The A3 sales are partner-led, so that while their sales will not be channel-exclusive, the large majority will be channel.
“HP had 80 per cent of business go through partners in 2015 and 87 per cent in 2016, and the A3 business will be consistent with that,” Maruggi said.
While Samsung had also been struggling in the printer market, HP’s fusion of the Samsung MFPs with HP’s own technology is key here – that second pillar of the strategy that Maruggi identified. HP’s A4 printers have a highly differentiated security suite of features, designed to provide PC-like protection to devices which are increasingly targeted for attacks as an easier entrée to the network.
“These A3 printers have exactly same level of security that we have on our A4s, including the HP SureStart technology,” Maruggi noted. “Another of the advantages we believe we will have is that partners and customers appreciate the consistency in the A4 across our Laserjets, that they are ‘plug and play’ regardless of class. The solution stack for the A3s is now exactly the same.”
Maruggi also pointed out that there is also a technology flow running the other way.
“We developed HP Smart Device Services as part of our A3 investment, and this will also benefit our A4 business,” he said. These services use sensing capabilities, connectivity, and integration with data collection tools to provide a strong toolset of advanced diagnostics, device specific troubleshooting and remote remediation capabilities.
The thirteen new MFPs that came through the Samsung licensing are all shipping now.