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Re: Why don't Epson produce their own archival inks? (Was RE: New - " Somerset Photo Enhanced" is now arriving)

--- Daniel Salzedo <Daniel@rimasystem.com> wrote:
> Dear all,
> Jerry raises a point that perplexes many of us - Why don't Epson just
> produce their own archival ink range? 

Jerry and Daniel,

Since we are all just giving our opinions, let me give mine. I think you guys
are are mislead on this issue because you spend your time in forums like this
one. It is my opinion, that forums like this do not represent the typical users
out there. We see the energy going into the development of archival inks/papers
by 3rd party suppliers like Lyson and MIS. But seriously, compared to Epson,
these are small time players. Just how much money do you really think they are
losing by not as of yet offering an archival solution? I don't know what the
figures are, but I'd bet the market share that these 3rd party suppliers of ink
and paper have taken from Epson is teeny tiny. The average Epson user out there
is not interested in trying 3rd party solutions. The average user is not trying
to sell their prints. The average user is thrilled with the image quality. For
the average user, the printers serve their purposes. We on this list, me
included, want more of course.

Put yourself in the shoes of the Epson executive. Solving this archival issue
is non-trivial. All inkjet manufacturers, not just Epson, fact the same issue.
Even with Fotonic inks, Silver inks, archival paper, etc., we are all still
really unsure about what the real life results will be. I'm talking about real
life results, not controlled Wilhelm tests/studies. So as the executive, you
know all of this. You know that to make progress in this arena, you'll need to
invest heavily in R&D and testing. You aren't Lyson or MIS with a small easily
servicable customer base. Your customer base is huge and world wide. You also
know that your success in this issue may only excite a very small percentage of
your user base. Knowing all of these things, how excited are you going to be in
commiting your corporate resources to tackle this issue? In addition, none of
us really knows what they are doing behind the scenes. For all we know, they
are working very hard at developing a solution but must be more more
conservative than companies like Lyson and MIS. 

It's easy to sit back and wonder how come Epson isn't doing this or that when
other compaines seem to be making progress. But larger corporations have much
different concerns than small companies. Take HP. They have decided, at least
for the time being, to basically leave the ultimate photo printing (as far as
image quality is concerned) to Epson. Why? They certainly have the resources to
compete with Epson products in photo quality. But they've made a decision that
the larger general purpose inbkjet market is more important to them. That's why
we haven't seen a Photosmart II printer. The point is that business concerns
must take priority. You have to be a responsible business person if you're
going to stay in business. Some times, that means that you can't do everything
you want to do in the time you want to do it because the returns don't justify

I don't know how accurate I am in my assessment. All I do know is that
customers who don't have the responsibility to be profitable, some times don't
understand al of the issues a manufacturer has to be concerned with. They just
see what they think is a simple issue and wonder why the manufacturer doesn't
address it. I do know that manufacturers are concerned with issues that most
people would never see in a million years unless they worked in that

> I am not privy to Epson's internal
> decision making process, so can only speculate from my own experiences.
> Epson follow the crowd by ignoring the longevity issue in the domestic
> market. I imagine the vast majority of Epson's revenue comes from normal
> domestic sales of printers, ink and paper. These are sold through
> high-street retailers and mail order on the strength of nice-looking samples
> and good magazine reviews. None of the mainstream computer magazines seem to
> address print longevity with any kind of importance in their product
> reviews. They, like the manufacturers, know what the major issues are for
> their customers. To be cynical of course the printer manufacturers are large
> advertisers as well. HP, Canon and Epson keep the issue nicely quiet. No
> manufacturer will ever voluntarily draw attention to the drawbacks of their
> product, especially one universal to their technology.
> As we have all seen, it has taken several years of intensive research and
> development (With ourselves as guinea pigs of course) to get the archival
> ink market close to a solution equivalent to Epson OEM inks and papers in
> gamut and print quality. Even now many issue remain. Some caused by the OS
> itself, beyond the control of the printer manufacturers. If Epson had
> released the 1200 with an archival inkset and paper, would the world-wide
> sales have been greatly different? As it stands no major review I have read
> disputes that the Epson 1200 and 750 are the best photo-printer on the
> market under $1000 when using the OEM inks and paper. This alone is its
> prime selling point. Customers are used to buying the OEM inks and papers,
> and the high-street stores have no problem with this as they are high-profit
> pre-marketed products.
> Anyone considering an alternative to Epson, such as HP, Canon or Lexmark, is
> almost certainly doing so out a need to satisfy other requirements other
> than photo-quality. (EG plain-paper performance, print speed, reliability.)
> They are not doing it to get better longevity with the possible exception of
> the minority who buy Alps, but their technology has many other downsides. If
> longevity was a major selling point the Alps market share would be much
> higher than it is.
> I would think that Epson's R&D revolves entirely around maintaining the
> competitive edge in print quality over the nearest competition, none of whom
> address the longevity issue either. Being able to spin off their desktop
> technology into high-profit commercial products like the 9000 is the icing
> on the cake, but the miniscule size of this market provides no impetus for
> them to create new inks or papers. As a commercial company Epson need to
> invest the minimum amount in R&D for new products that beats the best effort
> by their competitors by the smallest acceptable margin. Any extra features
> above and beyond this are simply extra costs with no appreciable commercial
> return.
> However, let no one on this list forget that this lack of development by
> Epson has led to the current, highly competitive third-party market we
> enjoy. If Epson had a full range of archival inks and papers and full
> color-managed driver support, how many of these companies would survive? How
> much choice does an Alps user have in buying inks and papers?
> Daniel S.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jerry Olson [mailto:jerryols@badlands.nodak.edu]
> Sent: Sunday, August 22, 1999 7:44 PM
> To: epson-inkjet@leben.com
> Subject: Re: New - "Somerset Photo Enhanced" is now arriving
> Jon,
> You would THINK that Epson would be working around the clock to get
> their OWN archival inks out. Just think of all the money they have lost
> by not doing so. Dozens of companies making inks for THEIR printers!
> Jerry
> -
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