CeBIT: China’s Seine Launches Pantum, New Printer Brand

Does the world need a new line of printers?

The China-based printer supply company Zhuhai Seine Technology clearly thinks so. The company, a rapidly growing supplier of laser printer consumsables, is launching a line of laser printers branded as Pantum, taking on established players like Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, Canon and Epson. This morning, the company launched a move into the European market. Seine plans to debut in Latin America in April and the U.S. by July.

Jackson Wang, Seine’s Chairman and CEO, noted at a press conference at the CeBIT trade show in Hanover, Germany this morning that less than 10 companies in the world actually make laser printers. One reason for that, he says, is that there are over 500,000 laser printer patents worldwide. (Other companies sell branded printers but don’t actually manufacture them.)

Seine has been a highly successful producer of consumables; he says they are the fastest growing company in the laser printer consumables segment. Indeed, the company ranked fourth on a recent FORBES list of the 100 fastest growing companies in China.

The company actually launched their first printer in the China market in December 2010. They have since shipped over 100,000 printers into the Chinese market. Last year, Wang says, the company had close to 5% of the China printer market. (China, he notes, is the world’s second-largest laser printer market after the U.S.)

Wang says that in 2007, Lenovo sister company Legend Capital invested in Seine, acquiring a 15% stake.

Wang thinks the company can beat other manufacturers in particular on cartridge costs. He intends to build Pantum as a major printer brand in Europe, with a line of laser printers and multi-function printers. Wang seems to think they can build Pantum into a brand recognized beyond China, like Lenovo in PCs or Huawei in communications  products. They’ve already started selling in Australian and several other markets.

Part of the philosophy is to produce printers focused on the needs of business customers, rather than consumer. Their view is that many printers have been quality reduced to keep costs down for the consumer market. Seine says the products are built to last 4x longer as comparable printers, with fewer paper jams and lower cost per page.

The company’s pricing strategy is about in line with comparable printers; but with long-lasting printers, they contend they can offer cheaper costs per page over time than other printers.

One novel (and sensible) approach is that all of their products will use the same printer cartridges.

Will they succeed here? Who knows. But if I were HP, I would be be paying close attention.

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