Analysis of the Print Service Market

Innovation by modern technology is important.

But: Success needs a new Eco System approach

For centuries, the printing industry has been one of the most innovative and investment-intensive industries ever. The principle, to be always in front with technological innovation has been extremely profitable. The great upheaval began more than a generation ago, as implemented in the late 1980s through desktop publishing (DTP), the motto: “Everybody his own Gutenberg!“. Exclusive expertise of the printing industry almost overnight became accessible to everyone using publishing software. Despite the still strong pace of innovation and many (new) excellent technology suppliers, the printing industry has lost ground.

The main reasons / effects:

  1. Furiously accelerated structural change was brought about by the personal computing and PostScript era which had an unexpected and violent impact. The printing industry (like many technology suppliers too), completely underestimated the associated changes. DTP brought the harbinger of the Internet, Web 2.0 and social media developments that spawned an explosion of new business ideas. First of all, Apple and Adobe, and later Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Ebay and hundreds of others. Tops and flops go hand in hand.
  2. The printing industry influenced many factors, but did not respond adequately, which put its meaning into doubt. Mainly due to the upheaval in the media that rocked the publishing world and put their sustainable business models into question. To create media products, including newspapers, magazines or books for publishers, but with only a portion of the printing business. Neither small nor insignificant, but in the sum is not of vital importance for printers that can use their investments (in machinery) for commercial printing, packaging, mailers, labels, posters and with much more merit. Especially as the lucrative production of the traditional publishing products mentioned is reserved for the few, because of strong competition with low margin.
  3. The changes in the media brought changes in media habits with them. A chain reaction was set in motion: the digitization of communication and transaction capabilities brought many players on the scene that had their roots in the field of photography, computing, communications and office copying techniques. These occurred early and mid-1990s with the promise to complement conventional printing technologies, not just to replace the old world.
    The slogan on the assumption was: “Offset printing is out of date!“. In the printing market, offers the greatest potential for digital printing, so that the industry comes out of trouble again. But the printers quarrelled with the digital printing technology, because the quality was not right. The initial scepticism in the printing sector, followed by fear, and resentment fuelled by the market power of the player. Which in turn created new types of services and newcomers on the scene. The thought of making purely digital printing techniques, which fit better into the Internet age, to the established printers to finish off. In addition, an increasing number of digital printing systems are increasingly used by customers of print shops.


The printing technology development must, therefore, be considered sober and above all very differentiated — especially after drupa 2012. Although digital printing was the undisputed number one topic at drupa 2012. But still be more than 85 percent of the global printing products are manufactured using traditional printing techniques (especially in offset printing). Offset printing by digital techniques has also developed dynamically, including process optimization and productivity for print shops.

The Print Service Industry is not only suffering from the economic situation. Correspondingly high investments at drupa 2012 are both in digital printing as well (again) has flowed into offset printing techniques. Manufacturers and service providers are trying to find ways to rethink their strategy and adapt to the market situation. The focus is on hybrid production offerings to synchronize in a much better way with the current market demands.


Modern, future oriented printers establish benefits from comprehensive technology solutions partners who offer and install not just printing technology, but provide added value through expertise, foresight, continuity, and services. Both partners have to build up and share a common new Eco System to enable growth. That means: Today and tomorrow both parties have to become best-in-class-partners to hit the needs of brand owners and print buyers. Because those customers have to get access to a better business communication approach. At least it’s not about printing, it’s about finding and handling the best communication mix.

Value Trend Radar, Issue 1, July 2012

Publisher and copyright 2012:
Andreas Weber, Mainz/Germany
Twitter: @zeitenwende007

Illustration: Lidia Lukianova, SF Bay Area

Get in touch for more insights about the new Eco System for hybrid production offerings

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