Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Andy Tribute Weighs in on Kodak Prosper. My two cents is that "Good enough" now, Is better than "Better," later. Black ink only is good enough.

When Noel Ward posted at WTT describing the Kodak Prosper technology last Friday, it sounded to me that the tech was a game changer. At the time I commented:

If I read it correctly a tabloid page in color would be appx .008 x 2 = 1.6 cents and .0015 x 2 for .003 per black and white tabloid page. That translates into 24 page tabloid in black only for .072 plus paper and folding.

If those numbers check out I think it might open up a market for the versioned newspapers to eat into the high school textbook market.

I don’t know the pricing on the infoprint, hp or oce machines, but a selling cost of less than 20 cents a copy should find it’s place in the education marketplace.

Or my math could be wrong.

In today's WTT, Andy Tribute has a column entitled Kodak - On Stream to Prosper. Following are some excerpt:

Before going further with this analysis one needs to outline that Stream is a new technology for continuous inkjet printing, and that Kodak has been developing this new technology for many years. a brilliant concise history of the tech follows at the click
Here, I want to draw attention to two points:
The first of these products has now entered the market, this being the Kodak Prosper S10 Imprinting System. This is a monochrome only imprinting system with a print width of 4.16 inches, a resolution of 600 dpi and a running speed of up to 1,000 ft/minute
If this system were used to embedd TinyUrls and CodeZ QR codes into offset printing, no matter what the substrate, it brings Clickable Print to a mass market. It can be implemented now merely by joining well defined technologies in the service of a new capability for Print.
The next Kodak Prosper product will be the first press on this platform. This will be the Kodak Prosper Black Press and it is targeted for introduction in 1st quarter of 2010. This is a press targeted mainly at the book market with a print width of 24.5 inches that allows for three-up perfecting on 8 x 10 inch pages to produce 12 page signatures, or four-up perfecting on 6 x 9 inch pages to produce 16 page signatures
This might be real competition for Oce in large scale book printing. But will it be able to penetrate the installed base? My bet is that it's going to take lots of time and money. While the TCO of Prosper might be better now, there is little doubt that going forward Oce will continue to improve and thus lower operating costs.

In my not so humble opinion,
Kodak has to solve the Innovator's Dilemma. In successful large corporations, disruptive innovation can not grow because the culture of the company is focused on improving the product/services for their best customers. From what I read at Andy's column Kodak Prosper might well turn out to be a disruptive technology.

Christensen outlines case after case after case to demonstrate that disruptive technology has to mature by meeting the needs of a market of non consumers. For previously unserved customers, the choice is between nothing and a "good enough." The black ink only technology is good enough.

The non consumers for high school education are the drop outs and the adolescents incarcerated in the US prison system. There are few benefits that accrue to any one in the education industrial complex by serving this population, and thus there is no competition.

Color is allegedly important for advertising at the top of the pyramid .(Although I question the common wisdom after considering on the track record of Google AdSense.)

Consider clickable one color versioned print product and one color CodeZ QR in 4c offset to replace textbooks at the bottom of the pyramid. It might be just the revenue stream to buy some time. Also consider turning Prosper into it's own business unit. Give it the space to develop the business rules that make sense for a disruptive technology.

Full Disclosure: Long on Kodak.

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