Copiers and equipment vendors are a critical part of the office solutions market. Despite predictions made roughly 30 years ago, the paperless office has not materialized and businesses across North America are still big consumers of paper, especially copier paper. Yet many copier businesses are quickening their march towards obsolescence. Extreme commoditization is one reason; and it is the single greatest threat to profitability, market share and revenues.
The copier segment isn't the first hi-tech industry to fall prey to commoditization. IBM experienced this firsthand with personal computers in the late 80s and 90s and continues to experience this today. Microsoft is now experiencing commoditization of desktop productivity with the release of Microsoft Office 2010. How to tell? Price cuts through discounts for Office Home and Student editions are a subtle recognition that the once mighty Office Suite isn't as valuable as it once was.