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10/21/2005
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Lexmark Pitches Sub-$500 Color Printer

In a bid to become more competitive, the company's new line of color laser printers will break the $500 barrier.

Taking the next step after vowing to become more competitive with its brand, Lexmark on Monday plans to unveil a lineup of color laser printers that breaks the $500 barrier.

The Lexington, Ky., company is making an aggressive move in the midrange and low-end network-ready color space. Among the new units are the C520n and the C522n, systems that run up to 20 ppm with list pricing of $499.

“If you look at color, it’s an exploding opportunity,” said John Linton, vice president of Lexmark’s solution provider channel organization. “By the end of next year, color shipments are going to outstrip monochrome shipments.”

Lexmark is also set to unveil the C524n at $699; the C424dn, with duplex capability, at $999; and the C524dtn at $1,199. All will have additional networking capability, including fiber optics and Gigabit Ethernet, and will be internal wireless-ready.

The new products will ship as Lexmark is working to get back on track with investors and fight off competition from Dell-branded and other rival systems. Last month, Lexmark Chairman and CEO Paul Curlander said the company would miss third-quarter earnings expectations and would take aggressive action to reignite sales of its own branded systems.

“Our programs are focused on helping partners grow their top line,” Linton said.

“It would probably be helpful in some respects to get more of the low-end market,” said Roger Elliott, president of Elliott Services & Peripherals, a Conover, N.C., Lexmark dealer. “But on the other hand, from a services standpoint, it wouldn’t be as good. Once printers get cheap enough, when they break, customers just throw them away.”

Elliott said two-thirds of his business comes from printer sales and services. His company signed on as a Lexmark dealer earlier this year, and he said sales have been good so far.

In addition to the new printers, Lexmark is set to begin shipping chemically processed toner, which it says will reduce the cost of Lexmark color laser printing to about 11.9 cents per color page or 2.2 cents for monochrome.

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