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The Shakeout in 2006

(January 2006) posted on Thu Jan 05, 2006

Update your printers and software, because the digital industry industry is constantly changing.


By Stephen Beals

It's disconcerting how quickly things change in this business.
It's even more disconcerting how that change has a snowball
effect"?the momentum keeps building and there's nothing
that can hold it back.

Wide-format has always been a digital environment. And
because it was spawned in the digital era, you might think print
providers are in little danger of being shut out of the market by
technology innovation. As you prepare your business for 2006,
however, keep in mind that you may again have to upgrade
your equipment"?particularly your digital front end and software.
In fact, keeping up
with technology may be
more important now than
ever before.

Wait, let me catch up

If your digital front end is
more than 3 years old, any
competitor with the latest
machines can probably
clean your clock in terms
of both speed and quality.
And it's probably fair to say
that your competitors are
not going to stop buying new machines just so you can catch
up to them.

Bigger, better, faster, and cheaper are what this market
is built upon. The difference between 3-year-old models and
today's current products is equivalent to comparing a leer
jet with lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis. Sure, the old prop plane
got "lucky lindy" from New York to Paris in about 33.5 hours,
but few people would want to try that today given the power,
speed, and comfort of the jet planes now available. It's fun to
read about, and lindbergh will forever be a symbol of courage
and tenacity, but who wants to run a business living with the
daily fear of the equivalent of crashing into an inky black atlantic
Ocean?

The "fast" computers of 3 years ago are beyond obsolete
"?they have become barriers to production and need to be
relegated to surfing the Internet (or something even less taxing).
Today, computer manufacturers are shipping dual-core
machines that simply blow away their predecessors. and not
only are they getting faster, but they're also becoming more
affordable"?you can buy two or three cutting-edge machines
for what you once paid for a single slogging behemoth.


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