TABS first internally developed A4 MFPs are ready for prime time.
Better late than never.
While competitors have released a steady stream of internally developed A4 products, Toshiba America Business Solutions (TABS) has been relying on partners such as Brother, HP, and Lexmark for A4 devices, some of which have been rebadged under the Toshiba name.
While those partner relationships continue unabated, TABS’s dealer channel now has more options with the release of the company’s first two homegrown A4 color MFPs, the e-STUDIO 330AC and e-STUDIO 400AC. Designed for medium-sized workgroups, they offer copy, print, scan, and fax, and output at 35 and 42 pages per minute (ppm), respectively. Both models include features consistent with the company’s A3 e-STUDIO MFPs such as document security, Toshiba’s customizable interface Elevate, and the company’s e-BRIDGE CloudConnect app for monitoring and remote management. A convenience stapler is also included. The new A4 models are built off the company’s A3 engines and have a similar clean-sheet design but a smaller chassis.
“For all intents and purposes, they are the equal of the A3 product at a significantly lower price,” said Bill Melo, chief marketing executive, TABS. “We have a number of clients who, in the past, have wanted to add A4 product, but don’t want to have a different interface and a different brand. This gives us a good solution that provides enterprise coherence.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic still steaming, and many employees still working remotely at least part of the time, Melo cautioned that these A4 models are not home-office products.
“Unless you have a dedicated office in your home, it is a beefy A4 MFP,” noted Melo.
With print volumes trending downward prior to the pandemic and even more so today, Melo described the new e-STUDIO MFPs as an important product for the company to introduce now.
“There’s a lot of speculation that offices a year, two years, five years from now, will not have the same number of employees as they do today,” he said. “That may or may not be true, but it’s not unreasonable to speculate on. Regardless, print volume is going down. Customers are replacing A3 products at the end of their leases, and now they have another alternative to bring into their fleet with a significantly lower hardware price and at an efficient cost per page.”
The reason it has taken some time for Toshiba to develop its own A4 line was a matter of priorities. The previous focus was building out its A3 line. With that overhaul complete, Toshiba was able to turn its attention to A4.
While it’s too soon to discuss what’s next, since TABS is only in the initial stage of this introduction, it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that additional products in different A4 speed ranges will follow, including models with finishing options beyond the current convenience stapler.
For now, Melo is satisfied with the new A4s.
“As our first entree into the Toshiba-developed A4 market, this is a good choice,” he said.
Pricing had yet to be announced at press time. However, there is pent-up demand in the TABS dealer channel for these products, with Melo reporting that dealers are already including these new products on bids. He doesn’t expect any problems meeting demand.
“We would all love to be in a situation where demand was so high that we had to ask the factory to pump out more,” he said. “We have planned for a successful launch based on the initial reaction and anticipate having plenty of product.”
While COVID-19 has impacted some company’s sales projections, that is not true for the A4 products.
“Our forecast hasn’t changed,” said Melo. “Our orders to the factory haven’t changed. Our expectations and the factory’s expectations are very high for this product worldwide. There is an opportunity to see growth due to the possibility of not just customers of Toshiba products, but competitive products as well, downsizing their fleets, but still wanting the capability of a robust MFP without the capital outlay [of an A3].”
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