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HP and Canon MFP alliance could create channel conflict

Paul Kunert

Hewlett-Packard and Canon have joined forces to market current and future MFPs in a move that is destined to throw up some channel conflict.

Both organisations operate fairly distinct go-to-market strategies with HP strong at the workgroup or desktop level via IT resellers, while Canon is firmly entrenched at departmental level and works predominantly with copier dealers.

The firms were evidently in self-licking mode today as Canon claimed the alliance would lead to an expansive customer base and increased sales, while HP reckoned the partnership would offer customers "holistic IT solutions".

At street level some IT resellers have given the deal the thumbs up in terms of technology collaboration but have spoken of the difficulties in executing and managing such a partnership.

"There are around 100 loyal Canon dealers - lifestyle businesses - selling profitable copier contracts that are not very transparent," said a source, "couple that with the transparency of HP's channel and it is hard to see how the deal will work."

Others have questioned if HP and Canon will look for a new breed of partner or hybrids that understand how to sell print as part of a managed service, has the skills to network an MFP and operate more aggressive Ts&Cs.

Malcolm Hancock, director at market research firm Bradham 360, agreed there may be room for channel conflict where there is some overlap of technologies but on the whole he believed the partnership was positive for the market and both firms.

"Putting the two together will make them more competitive against the likes of Xerox and Ricoh," he told MicroScope.

The deal will be a "marriage made in heaven" said David Smith, recently installed chief exec at print specialist Landscape Group but who worked extensively at HP including stints in the printer division and as marketing director at Canon UK.

"This is good news for Canon because it opens up the IT market and for HP because it massively expands the MFP portfolio at the high-end," said Smith.

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