How about this? Digital copier/printer manufacturer Ricoh purchases arch rival Canon’s top reseller IKON. This is part of a growing trend of copier manufacturers purchasing dealer channels. With these channels also representing one of the fastest growing channels for document imaging software, it will be interesting to watch the relatively conservative hardware manufacturers merge with the more progressive document imaging ISVs.
The IKON deal represents probably the largest acquisition yet by a hardware vendor of a dealer. IKON is more than twice the size of Global Imaging, which was acquired by Xerox last year. Also, vendors like Sharp and Toshiba have been acquiring smaller North American dealers over the past few years, Sharp only recently accelerating its activity in this area.
Of course, the big question is, where does the IKON acquisition leave Canon, which for years has been IKON’s primary hardware vendor. Ricoh and HP have begun to figure more heavily into the IKON mix in recent years, but Canon was still the primary vendor. Canon, which has been the North American market leader in MFP units shipped will be hard pressed to replace this channel as it moves to Ricoh.