The new HP-Sharp alliance will expand the available options for HP managed print services customers and provide Sharp with a new and much-needed sales platform.
On 10 December 2013, HP announced a new original equipment manufacturer (OEM) alliance with Sharp for a range of A3 multifunction printers (MFPs). The HP S900 series products, which will include some HP software, will be branded HP and serviced by HP for sale in contractual managed print services (MPS) contracts in the U.S., Australia and some markets in Western Europe. These new models are expected to start shipping in February 2014.
The OEM alliance between HP and Sharp will expand the options for HP MPS customers.
Gartner believes that this alliance is a positive step for both HP and Sharp. HP extends its range of devices, although it’s also important to note that HP has had a number of A3 partners over the years, including Konica Minolta, Toshiba and Canon. Sharp gains a large supplies revenue opportunity with access to many larger organizations that print much higher page volumes. The agreement is also timely for Sharp, as the company has been subject to speculation around its financial security and about its print business being acquired by potential suitors, including Samsung.
With this partnership, Gartner believes that HP is looking to lessen its reliance on Canon, HP’s current partner for higher-volume MFPs for MPS contracts. However, HP's existing relationship with Canon will remain in place, and customers will continue to have the option of Canon or Sharp in their MPS contracts.
The Sharp products will be HP branded and serviced by HP in most instances, and augmented by Sharp dealers when required. The agreement includes four models, three of which are color MFPs. The models are heavy duty machines (15,000 - 83,000 monthly page volumes) and have strong finishing options, something for which HP is not renowned. HP says that 10% to 15% of the devices in its customers' fleets are running volumes suitable for high-volume devices.
HP will need to revisit its MPS strategy to take full advantage of the new products. For example, color MFPs of this kind should be economical for both color and black-and-white jobs, allowing users to eliminate black-and-white-only devices, but HP specifically told us that it will not deploy them in this way.
HP MPS Customers:
Look closely at how HP and Sharp will work together to support your organization. Inquire about the specific locations with attention to differences between those that draw on Sharp direct versus Sharp dealers, and check if and how this will change over time.
Ask HP to lexplore whether A3 MFPs might benefit your printer fleet. Don’t assume that HP will actively recommend these models, because it tends to lead with A4 equipment.
Scrutinize monochrome cost-per-page rates on these color devices as they might be higher than equivalent pages from a monochrome-only machine.