If you haven’t seen it, here’ s the announcement, which was made late yesterday. If the deal goes through, which it’s expected to before the end of March (AIIM 2009 is in late March-early April), it could be the end of an era for one of the pioneers in the document scanner business. Bell + Howell entered the scanner business more than 20 years ago, in 1986, with the acquisition of Image Peripherals, Inc. (IPI)- the North American arm of a Belgian scanner company co-founded by Dan and Roland Borrey. Bell + Howell went on to tremendous success with its Copiscan and Copiscan II scanner lines, before hitting a rough patch, when it was nearly acquired by Kodak in late 2000. An inquiry by the U.S. Justice Dept. put off that sale, even as Bell + Howell sold its much large product services business to Kodak. BBH scanners then rebounded strongly, landing a huge deal with FedEx that was followed up by the launch of its successful Spectrum series of high-speed scanners.
The news out of BBH scanners over the past few years has always been positive, but that fact is, aside from the introduction of fairly revolutionary large format scanner a couple years ago, there hasn’t been too much substantial to report on. And as scanning was not core to parent Bowe Systec’s business, the writing was probably on the wall. Plus, we even predicted in last week’s issue of DIR that the economy and market environment was ripe for some hardware consolidation. I guess we were right.