In October 2021, I was in Israel, and haven't you been there you should add this to your bucket list. It is an amazing place with friendly people, great food, a vibrant culture, beaches, technology, old-and modern - it pretty much has everything and is one of my two-three favorite places.
But this is not supposed to be a travel recommendation or guide, but about the 'New' HP. Understanding what I am talking about requires some background, so let's dig in!
Speculations and observations by Editor Morten B. Reitoft
What is the stronger brand, HP or Indigo? I was asked when having dinner with friends, and it was actually a pretty good question. Indigo is and has long been an indispensable part of HP, but many printing companies think about Indigo when talking about HP. HP is a HUGE company with a size 20-30 times the companies we consider vast in our industry. Their offerings range from 3D printing equipment to computers and software sold in numerous industries. Still, though Indigo is known, Scitex is known, and T-series is known, most likely Indigo is the best known of the three.
Alon Bar-Shany, who used to be the GM of Indigo, built the Indigo reputation and brand along with passionate and dedicated team members. More than most, Bar-Shany, invested his name, time, and standing in building the Indigo brand into what Indigo is today. That has been good for Indigo, and the enormous success has also given other HP products easier access to the graphics-arts market - and yes, of course, I am exaggerating. However, when Alon Bar-Shany left Indigo, many speculated, including me, whether the exit was part of a power struggle about the entire HP graphics arts business. Though this is not confirmed officially, Alon Bar-Shany left HP, and in came Haim Levit, who used to run Americas.
Haim Levit is very different from Alon Bar-Shany, and I must admit that I like both - though very different. Alon Bar-Shany is the musician who orchestrated Indigo and fine-tuned the organization to deliver an Indigo to almost every segment in the industry but never compromising on quality. I am not saying Haim Levit isn't adding the same values and virtues to Indigo, but I believe he has one crucial thing to understand. He understands how important it is for HP to stand united so the individual brands don't compete but develop products and services complementing each other.
The Indigo business continued growing and developing from strong Israeli leadership, marketing, and everything that has made Indigo great. In San Diego, the PageWide grew and became an essential asset in the 'Graphics Arts' segment - but did the two branches compete? Of course, they did, and besides the friendly teasing you can hear by Bar-Shany in the interview I did with him some years ago - there might be more to it - and this leads directly to what I refer to as the 'New' HP.
At drupa 2016, Benny Landa once again showed nanography, and I am not saying that HP feared Landa in any way - it was, however, evident that Inkjet started to become a technology that potentially could threaten the Indigo business. Till now, HP was in an almost perfect situation as Indigo was the ideal solution for commercial print, book covers, high-quality print, and yes, we can say personalization as much as we want. Still, my take is that most Indigo owners use their Indigo's for short runs. PageWide T-Series is and was a success. You see the T-series at transactional print and book printers almost everywhere, so the speed and quality of the T-series were great for these types of applications!
I would say that most T-series customers also invested in an Indigo - and the ecosystem was perfect with PrintOS, SiteFlow, and other smart software solutions. But competition never sleeps, and if valid, Canon started to take market shares - at least in Europe - and as Canon wasn't split into several business units, there wasn't any apparent internal competition. Canon's prostream and colorstream, together with the i- and later ix-series, delivered a quality almost on par with Indigo. Something had to be done, and one of the first steps was Brilliant Ink, which gave the T-series offset quality on coated and uncoated paper, not even primed and well, a quality that matched the competition. The second step, where the 'New' HP is introduced, is to 'merge' PageWide and Indigo into one organization where the internal competition, at least on paper, is eliminated!
The next step - and as everything above is speculations- so is the next - an Indigo quality HP inkjet cut-sheet device must be on the radar. With Canon, Ricoh, Kodak, Kyocera, Fujifilm, and many others in work, HP must deliver a cut-sheet inkjet device. Should that be an Indigo from Israel or a T-series from San Diego? The obvious answer is that it should be from HP - and not mixing internal interests over customer needs! HP has experience in both cut-sheet and Inkjet. Still, suppose you develop a cut-sheet Inkjet printer. In that case, customers will expect it to be on par with an Indigo regarding quality, speed on the level with the competition, and operational cost on the level with any other Inkjet printer in the market.
And for a renewed HP with an even stronger focus on delivering complete solutions to customers, this is only natural! But it will, of course, potentially compete with Indigo.
Will this kill ElectroInk and Indigo? NO WAY. In an interview with Golan Landsberg in October 2021, he claimed that Electro Ink would be faster than Inkjet - and if we look at HP's portfolio, some apparent things get clearer. HP has the upper hand on Inkjet and toner technology and has a head start on other segments such as folding cartons, corrugated packaging, and labels. I wouldn't be surprised to see Indigo as an even stronger brand for fine-print, labels, and even at faster speeds than the inkjet machines. The HP technology will be competing with other vendors on applications, speed, and operational cost, and why not offer various technologies within each segment?
With Haim Levit, HP has the advantage of having a person that knows from both the PageWide and now also the Indigo side - and with solid communication, HP will most likely be able to convince the market about the advantages over what technology a customer may choose!
I agree with this strategy.
For now, it's interesting to see how HP will manage its new united role - as the entire organization must merge different cultures into one. This is, of course, always interesting to see and I am sure the winners will be the customers.
Good luck, Haim - and I still look forward to someday interviewing you!
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