OKI Looks to Continue Success in BTA Channel With New A3-Size, LED-based Color MFPs

Robert Palmerby Robert Palmer | 6/18/14

On June 16, OKI Data Americas announced the availability of its latest color MFPs, the ES9465 and ES9475. Developed in partnership with Toshiba TEC, the new models consist of a Toshiba A3-size copier-based engine utilizing an OKI LED print head. Part of the OKI Executive Series, the ES9465 and ES9475 are available exclusively through the office equipment dealer channel. 

With print speeds of 50 ppm, the ES9465 and ES9475 represent the new entry point for OKI’s copier-based product line — replacing the CX3535 and CX3545. Both models feature a very small footprint compared with competitive A3-size products at comparable speeds. OKI also claims that the new machines are among the lightest weight and quietest devices within their product segment. 

OKI will offer multiple configurations for the ES9465 and ES9475, with optional finishing and paper handling capabilities including an inner finisher, multi-staple finisher, and saddle-stitch functionality. The firm also points specifically to several security features that are standard with the new models, including support for a self-encrypting hard drive, data overwrite and IPSec enablers, and multi-format proximity card readers. 

To provide consistency for its customers and channel partners, the ES9465 and ES9475 use the same 9-inch color touch panel and open API smart Extendable Platform as OKI’s A4 Smart MFPs. Like many vendors these days, OKI is working hard to ensure that its products provide a consistent user experience across the portfolio. This not only helps with usability, installation and training, but it simplifies the process of adding these new models to any environment where customers are already using OKI Smart MFPs.

Support for OKI’s smart Extendable Platform also allows for the seamless integration of various document solutions, allowing dealers to develop customized applications to meet the needs of their customers. The firm points to four specific solutions that are supported by the new products, including PaperCut print management, Drivve Image capture and workflow, DocuWare’s workflow software, and RightFax. OKI notes that each of these solutions has been popular within specific vertical markets and it expects penetration to grow with expansion into its A3 product line.  

Base price for the ES9465 MFP is $22,879, while the MSRP for the ES9475 is $28,079. Both models come with a standard 90-day warranty but OKI notes that most dealers prefer to offer their own warranty and service plans as a value add. OKI does not disclose supplies pricing. Again, supplies pricing is something that is typically established by the dealers, but OKI claims that the new machines offer very competitive cost-per-page and total cost of ownership.

Our Take

The new machines expand on a partnership between OKI and Toshiba TEC that appears to have delivered great results for both parties. As has been the case previously, Toshiba will offer its own versions similar to the OKI models under its e-Studio brand. 

For OKI, the platform has been instrumental in helping the firm gain significant traction within the BTA channel. OKI explains that its strategy with the BTA channel is not necessarily to drive share shift but rather to provide products that fill key gaps in the dealer’s existing vendor product portfolio. According to OKI, that strategy has paid dividends over the past 18 months, resulting in having recently received BTA’s “2014 Channel Choice Award” for outstanding performance as a secondary product line provider.

OKI’s LED technology is perhaps its most important differentiator, providing several compelling benefits for dealers and customers, especially when compared with comparable laser-based counterparts. The lower cost of operation is obviously important, but it is the reduced maintenance resulting from LED technology that likely resonates most with dealers. LED technology simply has fewer moving parts compared with laser-based xerography, which as OKI explains means fewer service interventions, better cost containment for the end user, and improved profitability for the channel. Clearly, these are important targets for dealers to hit in today’s ultra-competitive office equipment market. 

OKI’s mid-level, LED-based A4 workgroup MFPs have performed very well in the market. Indeed, OKI says that those machines are “selling like wildfire,” in some cases double or triple original sales expectations. Adding the LED-based, A3-size machines for mid- to large-size workgroups is a perfect complement to its product strategy. Although the market for A3-size color MFPs is beginning to level off, it remains a very important product segment for vendors and dealers alike. Print volumes in the category are steady, and A3-size machines are vital when comes to supporting needs for balanced device deployment. 

Robert Palmer is chief analyst and a managing partner for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. He is an independent market analyst and industry consultant with more than 25 years experience in the printing industry covering technology and business sectors for prominent market research firms such as Lyra Research and InfoTrends. In December 2012 he formed Palmer Consulting as an independent consultancy focused on transformation, mobility, MPS, and the entire imaging market. Palmer is a popular speaker and presents regularly at industry conferences and trade events in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. He is also active in a variety of imaging industry forums and currently serves on the board of directors for the Managed Print Services Association (MPSA). Contact him at robert@bpomedia.com.