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Australian market more concerned with print quality than cost: Oki

Australian market more concerned with print quality than cost: Oki

Printer vendor finds Australian market has more in common with Europe than Asia

Businesses in the Australian market look for quality instead of cheap printing, according to Oki Data Australia managing director, Dennie Kawahara.

“Geographically, Australia is part of Asia,” he said, "but culture and market wise, it is similar to Western Europe.”

For that reason, Kawahara said Oki’s product range in Australia is “much closer” to the one the vendor has in Europe, both in products and consumables.

While quality is important for end users, Kawahara recognises that there are very cheap printers available from other vendors at retails, often for as low as $99.

“In Australia those are mainly for personal use, but you’ll find in other Asian countries those types of printers might be used for business,” he said.

“That is the biggest difference between Australia and its neighbours.”

Oki itself is not involved in the consumer space, and instead is focused on selling a “higher value product” into the mid to high end corporate market.

Due to this approach, Kawahara admits that Oki does not have a retail presence and instead carries out all of its printer business via the channel.

While Kawahara said the channel is “great” for marketing products in markets such as Australia, he admits it has challenging moments as well.

“2012 in particular was a tough year, when the economy was not the best and people stopped spending money,” he said.

When a downturn like that happens, Kawahara said there is not much one can do in the channel.

“Because you have to sell to dealers, who in turn have to sell to end users,” he said.

“But once people in that chain stop spending, that causes problems for everyone else in the chain.”

Dot matrix legacy

All of Oki’s printers use LED technology, which the company helped pioneer, though Kawahara said a few products are still laser based, though will be replaced with LED in the future.

Despite being replaced by quicker and better quality printing technologies, Oki is still seeing demand for dot matrix printers.

This is because some industries still require a permanent copy of documents.

“Most receipts these days are thermal based but they tend to fade,” Kawahara said.

“People want to keep a permanent copy until it comes to tax time.”

For that reason, some customers have been using the same dot matrix machine for over 20 years and just change the consumables.

According to Kawahara, Oki and Epson are few of the vendors still playing in the dot matrix space.

Patrick Budmar covers consumer and enterprise technology breaking news for IDG Communications. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_budmar.

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