Trade fairs have been under pressure in recent years. Cancelling most events in 2020 is making vendors considering their stance towards trade shows once more. So far drupa has been beyond discussion as the one trade show in which a vendor needs to exhibit to be taken seriously in the printing industry. Product and technology development plans have been timed for this show to maximise impact. Now drupa being moved to 2021 wreaks havoc to many plans and a good share of vendors decided to hold virtual launch events instead.
Two major vendors bailed out of drupa 2021 recently and opted for virtual events. Xerox cited insecurity around large events during a pandemic. Bobst announced that it was cancelling its participation at most trade shows, including Drupa, citing several reasons: A change in strategy to forego trade shows (except selected few in Far East) in favour of virtual events and experience centers, environmental reasons and that 2021 is already “full” for Bobst.
Virtual press conferences
As the first of the major vendors which cancelled their drupa participation for 2021 Bobst held an international press conference on the 9th of June. Several articles have been written on the launches presented, but I would like to focus on the underlaying question: how well does a virtual event as a substitute for a trade show participation.
First kudos to the event organisers. According to Bobst more than 100 journalists and analysts joined. The virtual press conference was well organized. The stream contained a mix of CEO Jean-Pascal Bobst talking, mixed with slides and him drawing on a flip chart (you still remember what this is?) to explain some workflow details. There was ample time for questions, also expertly moderated by Francois Martin.
Still – getting technology developments explained via a couple of slides always gives me the feel that I want to walk over and kick the tires of the new product at the booth or demo site. Given the wide range of listeners to a call it is impossible to give enough detail for the exports while not to overextend the ones that dabble in this field of expertise (or in the print industry as a whole). Crucially, as an analyst I want to learn about the important points that are not on polished vendor presentation slides, like pricing, availability, tech details, pros and cons and more. I find being able to stand in front of a piece of technology and talking to product managers, sales guys and technicians incredibly helpful. This is usually the opportunity to examine print samples as well. And you have a bit of time to let the first information settle and recall the points you want clarified.
2019 has been a busy year and thanks for following my blogs on this website or on LinkedIn. Especially my blog comparing the technology line-up of HP and Xerox garnered quite some interest. But there is more: my blogs at Inkjet Insight.
Shortly after becoming a freelancer I decided to become a regular contributor to Inkjet Insight, having seen as an industry analyst that inkjet is the most dynamic printing technology in production printing. Accordingly it is the technology which requires the most explanations and insight, not just from the suppliers but from an independent community.
Inkjet Insight is a web community that provides valuable tools and resources to help companies objectively evaluate the potential of inkjet for their business, optimize their operations and grow their businesses using production inkjet. It includes articles on in an extensive knowledge base. A product finder makes it easy to navigate the papers, printers, finishing and software available for inkjet printing. We strive to provide an unbiased listing of all options available. Access for most content is for free, but obviously we welcome if you become a member for full access to all details.
If you are a supplier and not listed yet with your offerings for inkjet, please let us know.
More blogs and articles
The full list of my blogs at Inkjet Insight can be found here. The most recent addition is a look at the Kyocera TASKalfa Pro 15000c. A short series of articles on inkjet printing in Europe has been started as well, with articles on transaction print and direct mail using inkjet published so far. The series will be continued in 2020, with a view on book printing with inkjet. A look at specialty applications and cut-sheet inkjet in Europe will be following later in 2020.
There will be a lot more exclusive coverage for inkjet insight this year on pre-drupa and drupa product launches. Stay tuned and get unbiased information on what is new.
Last week IMI Europe hosted a mergers & acquisitions in inkjet forum on the day before the 2019 European digital printing conference. I have to admit that it has been a long time that I gained that much insight on trends that will shape our industry from a conference – although I am not even in danger of buying or selling a company any time soon.
Ken Stack from Proximus LLC led through the forum on drivers and market activity in mergers & acquisitions for production inkjet technology and related companies. Despite the negative assessments print is receiving sometimes, there is a healthy interest in production inkjet companies from various sectors such as public companies, private equity (PE) and increasingly private companies as well. There is no lack of funding capital either, especially in the era of zero interest rates. On the other hand, R&D in new technologies is pricey and protracted, with spending well above a hundred million US$ for a new inkjet head generation or press design. Hence even for established players acquisitions can make a lot of sense.