In Part 1, I highlighted some new product announcements from the barcode scanner vendor community and what these mean for the competitive landscape in general. Here in this post, I will focus on innovations in the barcode printer marketplace and how vendors are positioning their portfolio for success in today’s challenging global macroeconomic environment. Vendors’ research and development efforts are not limited to any one form factor, as evidenced by these product introductions.
1. Zebra Technologies: As the undisputed market leader in the barcode printer landscape, Zebra has successfully leveraged its extensive resources to build out a formidable product line that addresses current and emerging market requirements across a wide range of vertical markets and installation environments. The Company is working to expand its presence in emerging country markets with ongoing investments toward expanding its product portfolio. Zebra launched two MFi (Made For iPhone) certified printers to its already extensive mobile printer offerings – iMZ220™ and iMZ320™ – designed to support printing applications including receipts, tickets, proof of delivery and invoices. Aside from iOS, these solutions are fully capable of also supporting other leading mobile device platforms including Android™, Windows® Mobile and Blackberry OS. In VDC’s opinion, this move will help the organization maintain and also strengthen its leadership position in the portable thermal printer market while also enabling printing support for increasingly popular consumer handhelds.
2. SATO: The market leader in Asia-Pacific, SATO has a much smaller presence in other regions. With its acquisition of Argox in 2011, the Company aims to successfully penetrate the existing low-cost market opportunity in Latin America and Asia-Pacific, with a product line that effectively challenges emerging competitors such as TSC Printers. SATO America recently announced the launch of their Value Line of printers designed to fulfill application requirements of emerging and industrial markets. This includes CP-2140Z, the OS Series and the X Series of printers, capable of supporting applications in industries ranging from retail and transportation to health care and hospitality. The Value Line products are particularly aimed at price-sensitive users looking for cost-effective investment options.
3. Printronix: With a strong focus on the stationary industrial thermal barcode printer market, Printronix continues to work on building out its channel and vertical market reach with strategic alliances and new product introductions. The company’s printers support high-volume, mission critical barcode labeling applications in the industrial market. Printronix rolled out the entry-level T2N series of thermal barcode printers in the first quarter of 2013, pricing it aggressively at below $1,000 for the 203 dpi model. These printers are targeted at application environments including distribution, logistics, manufacturing, retail and health care.
2013 has got off to a very impressive start in terms of product innovation for the barcode technology market. While vendors strive to stay ahead of their competition with these new product introductions, the true winners here are the enterprise end users who are being afforded more choice and options.