You probably didn’t hear it here first, but word filtered in this morning that Ricoh and Toshiba plan to integrate their production departments for office technology, including MFPs and copiers. The news was originally reported online today in Japan in a Nikkei article. The official announcement is scheduled for May 19.
According to the article, the integrated company will consolidate the production, design, and development functions of both companies starting in 2024.
Reportedly, Ricoh will hold a 50% investment in the new company and collaborate with Toshiba TEC, a subsidiary of Toshiba, to integrate their technical capabilities and enhance competitiveness. According to the Nikkei article, this integration is the first time a major office machine company has joined forces with a competing manufacturer to integrate their production departments.
The article also noted that with the demand for office print on the decline, creating excess production capacity at both companies, Ricoh and Toshiba will explore opportunities with other companies to join the new integrated company. This is all speculation, but the article noted that this new venture could “become a reorganization hub for consolidating the production functions of major domestic office machines.”
It is expected that the two entities will streamline business operations from design to development and production to reduce costs. The expectation, prior to tomorrow’s official announcement, is that each company will maintain separate responsibility for sales and marketing.
Initial Observations About the Ricoh Toshiba News
There’s been so many rumors the past few years about Toshiba, but this scenario was totally unexpected. If anything, it is certainly a creative solution to issues affecting most hardware OEMs. How it will impact Ricoh USA and Toshiba America Business Solutions is the million-dollar question. If the Nikkei article is correct and both companies will be responsible for their own sales and marketing, it could very well mean business as usual. But even if that’s the case, if both company’s production departments are integrated as well as R&D, one has to wonder what this means from a product differentiation perspective. I know, I know, there’s already a lot of parity across manufacturer’s product lines, but it’s still a question that needs to be answered. Whatever happens, this could signal the beginning of a new era for the office technology industry, particularly around product development.
Look for more information tomorrow when the news is officially announced, as well as a future Frankly Speaking column with Frank G. Cannata’s take on the news, and perhaps an upcoming episode of Fridays with Frank.
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