mind the gap: blog


3rd Annual Drives for Rides Golf Tournament is in Full Swing!

The 3rd Annual Drives for Rides Charity Golf Tournament to benefit the Emilio Nares Foundation (ENF) hosted by gap intelligence takes places on Friday, May 1, 2015 at the Riverwalk Golf Course. As a values-led company, gap intelligence believes in giving back to the community. We are passionate about ourselves, our clients, and our local community.

The goal of ENF is to help families navigate through their child’s journey with cancer in San Diego and Orange County. To learn more about the Emilio Nares Foundation, please visit: http://enfhope.org/

Last year’s event, raised over $30,000 and this year we are aiming to raise $40,000 but we need your help. Just like previous years the golf tournament is slated to be another fun-filled event with some amazing raffle and silent auction prizes.

event details:

What: gap intelligence Drives for Rides golf tournament to benefit the Emilio Nares Foundation
When: May 1, 2015 at 1PM PST.
Where: Riverwalk Golf Course

golfers:

Tournament will be played as a 4 person Florida Scramble (best ball)
Single Green Fee: $150 / Foursomes $600 and includes green fee, cart with GPS, player gift bag, awesome prizes, drinks, dinner, opportunity drawing and auction!

how can you help?

We need everything. We need players. We need prizes for our players and we need sponsors. We need it all. We’ll take donations of all shapes and sizes. The players could use water bottles on the tee boxes. We need refreshments for our carts, sponsorships to give directly to ENF, and we need awesome prizes for our various games, raffles, and silent auctions.

sponsors & prize donations

First a Thank You to those who have already donated:

• Southwest Airlines
• Karl Strauss – 6 growlers & $400 in gift cards
• sanctuate! a tech-spa – 8 massage gift certificates
• One Bar – bars
• Polish Me Nails – $25 gift certificate
• Remember to Breathe – 1 hour acupuncture and consult
• Old Venice – gift certificate
• Callaway Right Hand Men’ Driver and Stand Bag worth over $500
• USS Midway – family four pack of passes
• Maritime Museum of San Diego – family four pack of passes
• Trader Joes Liberty Station – water donation
• Belli Belli Salon – salon gift basket
• Otterbox – $90 e-gift certificate
• Grande Colonial La Jolla – 3-Course Dinner for 2 at NINE-TEN
• The New Children’s Museum – Family of four passes
• mikrospa – gift certificate
• Point Loma Tea – gift basket
• Callaway Winery – Wine Tasting for 2
• Hornblower Cruises & Events – 2 whale watching/sea lion tours
• Solid Rock Gym – 2 day passes
• Sports Authority – golf sleeves/coupons
• Sprinkles – 1 dozen cupcakes
• The Cottage – $25 gift card, hat, shirt, and granola
• Yoga Six – 1 month unlimited yoga
• The Hot Spot – $25 gift certificate

prize donations

If you are able to donate a prize of any kind (we’ll take them all), please contactgolf@gapintelligence.com or give us a call at 619-574-1100.
sponsorships

Contact: Natasha Belak-Berger at 619-574-1100 or nbelak-berger@gapintelligence.com

Sponsorships and registration can be made online at: https://www.classy.org/san-diego/events/drives-for-rides-2015/e39062

Title Sponsor: $10,000 (includes 2-foursomes in tournament)
Major Sponsor: $7,500 (includes 1-foursome in tournament)
Tournament Sponsor: $5,000
Course Sponsor:$3,000
Hole in One Insurance Sponsor: $1,500
Beverage Sponsor: $750
Hole Sponsor: $300/hole

Thank you very much for your interest and support. The tournament and sponsorship of the Emilio Nares Foundation is an endeavor that gap intelligence is very proud to undertake.

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HP Targets New Users, Aims to Aid in Organization

With tax season upon us, it’s about time that we dig up old receipts and make yet another promise to ourselves to stay more organized for next year. If you’re anything like me during the days leading up to your tax filing, you put aside a day to input receipts into an Excel spreadsheet that can be filtered, sorted, and color-coded with conditional formatting (data nerd alert).

This process can be time-consuming and messy, two inconveniences that HP has taken note of and is looking to provide a solution for. In an effort to provide customers with a time-saving organizational tool, HP launched its Officejet 8040 inkjet AiO with Neat software. The hardware and software package are an innovative way in which HP is looking to add value to a specific user group and drive growth in the declining printer market.

If you follow the print industry, you might have heard that inkjet vendors are working hard to introduce innovative products that meet the needs of business customers amid a continued decline in home printing. HP has been at the forefront of business inkjet innovation for years, with noteworthy launches that include the Office Pro X series in 2013 and the Officejet Enterprise X series last year. HP’s latest attempt to offer an innovative business inkjet comes in the form of the Officejet 8040, which differentiates itself from other inkjets with its integrated support for Neat software.

HP’s Officejet 8040 with Neat is designed to provide an easy way in which consumers can digitally organize documents such as receipts and business cards, eliminating the need to store them in shoeboxes. Neat technology allows users to scan documents and export them to a number of applications including Excel, Quicken, and TurboTax. In addition, the inkjet AiO ships with 1TB of included storage that can be accessed remotely. Customers who purchase the Officejet 8040 also receive free Neat cloud storage for up to three years. However, once that time passes, customers will be subject to a usage cost of $59 per year.

While these features are certainly very “Neat” and differentiating, the Officejet 8040 is not a sure win by any means, and will be challenged to overcome its high pricing and limited target market.

The $399 price point is typically reserved for inkjet AiOs that offer traditional business-oriented features such as fast print speeds, large input tray capacities, low CPPs, and high ink yields (all features that HP’s identically-priced Officejet Pro 8630 offers). For reference, an inkjet AiO that ships with the same speeds, feeds, and ink costs as the Officejet 8040 is typically priced between $149 and $199, indicating that customers will be paying a premium of up to $250 for the Officejet 8040’s Neat software and storage. In addition, while Neat scanners can be purchased at a price between $179 and $499, purchasing both a Neat scanner and a non-Neat inkjet AiO will not only waste space, but also be a less cost effective option.

While the addition of Neat software and cloud storage helps to justify the Officejet 8040’s premium, the inkjet AiO may only appeal to a specific subset of users, e.g. home business users and other Neat enthusiasts. HP’s Officejet 8040 strategy contrasts with business inkjet product strategies from other vendors that typically target a broad range of users. That said, HP once again makes a bold attempt at targeting new users at brow-raising price points, but is still likely only resonating with a specific segment of customers.

Despite the above challenges, HP’s Officejet 8040 has gained a strong presence in the retail channel, and likely achieved much of its retail adoption as a direct result of its unique value proposition. So far, the model is available at Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot / OfficeMax, Fry’s, and MicroCenter. These placements are notable wins for HP, as it allows the vendor to place yet another above-$300 SKU on retail shelves that previously appeared to be at capacity (cue Officejet Pro 8630). It also gives HP the rare achievement of offering at least two unique inkjet AiO SKUs at the same price point and on the same shelf, joining the Officejet Pro 8630 at most chains and selling alongside the Officejet Pro 276dw at Fry’s Electronics, a feat that no other vendor has been able to accomplish in recent memory.

With its Officejet 8040, HP targets a specific users group and addresses that need with integrated Neat functionality. While these users likely utilize other ways to digitalize documents, such as standalone scanners and phone apps that scan, HP’s Officejet 8040 offers an all-in-one solution to address the needs of users in this segment, once again, in an innovative way.

Like I said earlier, I’ve spent countless hours putting my receipt-based ducks in a row, and I’m sure many others have done the same. HP has done well at identifying pain points like these within a unique user group, further demonstrating the vendor’s ambitions to lead at the forefront of business inkjet innovation.

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gappy Tumblr 6: National Days of March

Alright gappers, 2015 is in full swing and in case you haven’t checked the calendar, March is fast approaching! You may be wondering to yourselves, “How can I be an even more awesome gapper than I already am, and live each day to the absolute fullest?” Well I’m here to answer that question for you, with the gapper’s guide to the National Days of March!

There’s pretty much a National Day for everything and I’ve compiled a list of what I believe are the most gap-ified days of March that I implore every gapper to try to celebrate:

To start off, March 2nd is National ‘Old Stuff Day’. This holiday is meant to inspire you to break your old day-to-day habits by trying something new. Maybe today you drive to work through a different route, or pick up something you’ve never tried for lunch, or finally wear that hat you never thought you could pull off?

March 3rd is National ‘I Want You to be Happy Day’, a day dedicated to making others around you feel as awesome as you do! So get out there, gappers, and buy your fellow gap buddies some coffee, leave a present at their desk, take them to lunch, or tell them that they are freakin’ royalty!

Hopefully everyone is already aware what March 4th is… but in case you’re not a breakfast lover, it’s National ‘Pancake Day’, of course! Get your grub on, gappers!

March 6th is National ‘Employee Appreciation Day’! Today is a day to feel extra special and give yourselves tons of credit because you’ve been rockin’ it, gap!

Everyone needs a day to just get over something. Everyone also needs to nap sometimes. Why not conjoin the two and you have March 9th, National ‘Take a Nap/Get over it Day’. A great way to achieve both is to take a restorative yoga class and let yourself fall asleep. You know you want to…

While you really are awesome, gappers, sometimes it’s important to recognize when you’re wrong. On March 15th you can embrace National ‘Everything you think is Wrong Day’ in which you’re encouraged to avoid the phrase “I think” entirely and acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers. However, don’t use this as an opportunity to tell other people that they’re wrong… you may be missing the point.

Remember when I told you everything you think is wrong? Well today you can forget all that because March 16th is National ‘Everything you do is Right Day’! Yes, gappers, that means you can give yourselves some more credit today because you are super knowledgeable and everything you do is awesome!

When we aren’t busy being outstanding, sometimes we have a completely awkward moment that puts our greatness into question. National ‘Awkward Moments Day’ is on March 18th, and it would be a good idea to just briefly reflect on that one recent awkward moment…

…and just remember that you’ll get over it. Go ahead and laugh about it; everyone else already did!

Hey gapper, because you did such a good job of reliving awkward moments on the 18th, on the 19th you get to enjoy National ‘Let’s Laugh Day’. So today feel free to show your fellow gappers hilarious videos, like cats jumping into snow, or cats trying to catch footballs on TV, or cats playing with other cats. Everyone loves a good cat video, right?

…and just in case you don’t think cats are the funniest things on the planet, I’m sure you can find something else funny on the internet.

March 22nd is National ‘Goof off Day’, and as hard as we work, gappers, we deserve some goof off time. Feel free to hit up another gapper for some ping pong, draw some silly faces on the kitchen white board, or start your own dance party (maybe outside of the office, though).

The 23rd is a particularly awesome National Day because it encompasses a lot of cool things. For one, on March 22nd, 1989 the planet was nearly (by about 425,000 mi) hit by a mountain-sized asteroid, and the 23rd has since been considered National ‘Near Miss Day’ (cool, right?). Additionally the 23rd is National ‘Chips and Dip Day’ as well as National ‘Puppy Day’. So gappers, find a puppy, grab some chips and your favorite dip, and feel grateful for the near-catastrophic misses and the amazing wonders of the universe.

March 30th brings us to National ‘I am in Control Day’. We all know that Mondays can be rough, but on this day (being that it actually falls on a Monday this year) it is a day to remember that YOU are in control. Get totally pumped up to show Monday who’s boss!

Finally the last day of the month, March 31st, is National Education and Sharing Day. At gap we love to learn and we love to share our knowledge with each other, so I can’t think of a better National day to end the month with. gappers, go out there and share your wisdom with another gapper, and if you aren’t feeling all that wise than share a doughnut. We seriously love doughnuts.

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Design, the Next Area of Innovation for Notebook Makers

The earliest and most important technology event of the year has come and gone, and it brought with it some products and technologies that left our mouths wide open. CES 2015 saw launches and announcements by major and not so major manufacturers, including an overwhelming number of notebooks and tablets.

I attended the show for the 5th time this year, and one thing clear to all PC industry watchers was that CES 2015 was the year of light and sleek laptops.

international-ces-2015-las-vegas

After losing sales to tablets for years, CES proved that notebook makers got the message from customers loud and clear. Customers wanted lighter, powerful, and sleeker devices, and what we saw at CES was manufacturers addressing that with a focus on design, while maintaining the value proposition of notebooks; power and productivity.

While, Lenovo and Dell, with their Yoga and Inspiron Duo convertibles, set the stage a few years ago for innovations in the form factor, vendors are now taking design to the next level and are making laptops smaller, slimmer, and aesthetically appealing.

2015-02-05_1341XPS_13

HP’s new Elitebook Folio 1020 Special Edition, Samsung’s ATIV Book 9, and Lenovo’s LaVie line are some of the attempts from PC makers that aim to make laptops lighter. All of these devices weigh less than 2.2lbs, which is lighter than the 2.4 pound Microsoft 12-inch Surface Pro 3. Meanwhile, Lenovo’s 13-inch LaVie laptops took it to the next level, with models weighing a mere 1.72 pounds.

Dell started a new wave of thin and light designed notebooks with its XPS 13 machine and is aiming to make its PCs sleeker and more compact. Weighing between 2.6 pounds and 2.8 pounds, the XPS 13 fits a 13.3-inch screen into a chassis of an 11-inch notebook, allowing a wider viewing area without sacrificing space. The world’s smallest notebook, also a recipient of the Innovation Award at CES 2015, measures just 12×7.9×0.59-inches, which is the same size as Apple’s 11-inch MacBook Air and is much smaller than Apple’s 13-inch model. So not surprisingly, the rumor mill has it that Apple is working on a new 12-inch MacBook Air that is thinner and lighter than the current 11-inch MacBook Air. And this is only the first wave of products with a focus on thin and light…

Notebooks are a part of a much wider PC ecosystem that also includes other devices such as smartphones, tablets, and desktops, all supporting unique applications. For a while, notebooks lost relevance among users who were looking for portability and the latest generation of forthcoming notebooks is a great example of how manufacturers are evolving design to meet the needs of this group.

PC ecosystem

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Go, gap, Go!

2014 was a relatively quiet year for gap intelligence.  We didn’t make any drastic changes or reinvent ourselves.  We didn’t launch a volley of new services and tools.  We just stayed the course this year.

What we did do in 2014 was focus on the things that we do best.  We focused on our data and how to collect data with nine-nines (99.9999999%) of accuracy, in faster and more efficient ways.  An even larger initiative was the fulfillment of our “Analyst Vision” that will guide our illustrious team of analysts through the years to come.  Backed by our very deep understanding of the marketplace, we believe that gap intelligence’s analysts will create higher market level reporting never before offered – market sizing, forecasting, and business intelligence consulting.  Our goal is to perfect the science of capturing vital data quickly and accurately and use that data to create powerful insights unique to gap intelligence and valuable to our clients.

2014 was a year of reflection, 2015 is the year of “go”.

We’re hitting the “Go” button on a host of new innovations and services in 2015.  While official launch dates are not specified, here are just a few new initiatives that will launch this year:

Samsung PhoneSmartphones Market Intelligence Service

You might have heard that these new “Smartphones” have disrupted just about everything.  Navigation systems, recorders, digital cameras, audio players, video cameras, tablets, and PCs have all been hit hard by the immense popularity and growth of smartphones.  gap intelligence is excited to launch our Market Intelligence Service covering the smartphone industry.  Like all of our market intelligence services, smartphone manufacturers, and resellers will be provided the industry’s most timely and accurate business intelligence information on their marketplace.

gapCompare

gapTCO

gapCompare is a derivative and “lite” version of our industry leading gapTCO calculator.  gapCompare is an easy-to-use  web application that allows anyone (I’m looking at you copier dealers, manufacturers, VARs, and ecommerce sites ) to create custom head-to-head product comparisons of printers and copiers.  Users can easily pick products to compare and create customized proposals to give to customers and close deals.

Quixel Forecasting

quixel-gap-logo-v6

Last year, we purchased Quixel Research, a leading provider of market sizing and forecasting for the home entertainment industry.  Since our acquisition of the company last August, we have gotten ourselves familiar with Quixel’s services and now intend to “gapify” them.  Throughout 2015, we will incorporate gap intelligence’s granular market data to Quixel’s market sizing and forecasting reports and services.  With our market data, clients will see new and more compelling cuts of the industry that provide greater insight and a higher level of understanding (we’re giving the reports themselves a facelift too).

We also hope to introduce our Quixel Forecasting

services to the other categories that we track including (but not limited to) printing and imaging, home appliances, and computing.

gAPI

apiAfter years of planning, speculating, tripping, falling, and crying, we are ready to introduce an external API of our industry leading market data.  All of our data, every morsel of it, will be available through our API, which will dramatically change how we distribute our information and how our customers consume it.  We’ll be able to create reports, tables, and charts through dynamic online applications.  Our clients will be able to power their marketing, sales, and internal operations tools directly with our data.  gAPI opens the doors to countless opportunities for gap intelligence including data licensing, data warehousing, and big data analytics.

Data Mapping

linkingAfter over twelve years of practice, gap intelligence has gotten really good at tying disparate data sets together.  This is a particularly handy skill if you would like to link product information.

Let’s talk about the iPhone.

For you and me, the iPhone is a pretty simple name.  However, for Apple tracking the iPhone across multiple resellers and data sources is extremely challenging, because everyone uses their own nomenclature to label the product.  I-Phone, I_phone, eye phone – all kinds of iPhones!  Most resellers call the iPhone an internal SKU number (ABC123) and to make things even more complicated, the iPhone comes in multiple colors that are often mislabeled.  The blue iPhone is called gray, rust is called orange, magenta is pink and so on.  Want to learn where the iPhone is sold, advertised, and listed?  Good luck!

gap intelligence has perfected our data linking processes and combined with our knowledge of the marketplace we can bring clarity to massive data sets.  gap intelligence is in the unique position to assist companies of all sorts in making sense of their data and help them find answers to very big questions.

Those are just a handful of new initiatives that you’ll see from gap intelligence in 2015.  While we are excited about what you’ll see this year, our technology and team of gappers have some amazing things coming this year and beyond.  We are headed for a very fun trip.

Let’s go.

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“All I have learned, I learned from books [that I read in the gap Book Club]” – Abraham Lincoln

I’ve always heard that the human brain is like a muscle–the more you work it out, the stronger it gets. And no matter how weak or strong it is, there’s always room for more growth. On the flip side, it seems the latter is also true. The more we use our brains for mundane and passive activities, the more they atrophy and become increasingly dependent on routines to help get through the many challenges that each day brings.

At gap intelligence we hold the firm belief that we can’t grow as a company without nurturing an environment and a culture centered around learning. Years ago our employees put this belief into action and founded gap University in the spirit of team education–that each of us not only has something important to teach, but we also have many things to learn from one another. If we all knew what we all knew, then just imagine how much smarter and more successful we all could be!

In addition to gapU, there are ever more lessons to learn in business, management, leadership, innovation, and life in general. Many of these lessons are organized and written down in things called “books!” Surprisingly, books have been around for hundreds of years. Although they don’t have high-powered CPU’s, ultra-HD displays, or cutting edge mobile operating systems, they often pack a lifetime of knowledge into just a couple weeks of reading. Not bad for 15th-century technology!

So it is with great pride and excitement that I announce: we too at gap intelligence read books! Quite a few of them actually. In fact, this month marks the one-year anniversary of the gap Book Club, which is kind of like Oprah’s book club, except we don’t give away free cars and the books we select don’t become immediate best sellers. Still, our little club of gap bookworms has steadily grown in popularity, and we are without a doubt the largest contributor of gently-used books to the gap intelligence library, which now occupies two large bookshelves on the main floor at gap’s San Diego headquarters.

TheAdvantage

For those of you who missed the last few meetings, here’s a primer on some of the titles we’ve read and discussed over the past 12 months:
The Advantage (Patrick Lencioni): A practical guide on organizational health that encapsulates many of the concepts within several of Lencioni’s other popular books, including The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive; The Five Dysfunctions of a Team; Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars; and one of our favorites: Death by Meeting. Great cross section of topics centered around building winning teams, but more direct than his other books and not as interesting without all the fables!

TheLeanStartupThe Lean Start Up (Eric Ries) had probably as great an impact as any book we’ve read at gap intelligence in the last year. A new way of approaching product design–especially software–that centers on customer feedback as early in the new product development cycle as possible and leveraging that feedback throughout each iteration of development. The Lean Start Up introduced new lexicon into our intra-office conversations; the term “MVP” (minimally viable product) now finds its way into our daily dialogues.

DavidandGoliathDavid and Goliath (Malcolm Gladwell) was one of the most entertaining and provocative reads of the year, thanks in part to Gladwell’s gift of the silver tongue. In simple yet elegant prose, Gladwell challenges our assumptions about what we think are advantages, how they are really disadvantages, and vice versa. As the title suggests, the book presents a multitude of ways in which underdogs prevail even when “common sense” dictates otherwise.

LeadershipPipelineThe Leadership Pipeline (Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter, James Noel) is one of those books that should be required reading for any Fortune 500 CEO or high-level manager within a large enterprise. Admittedly this one was not as applicable for those of us running a small or medium-sized business. That said, the book’s message still rings true–that time and time again the most successful companies are those that cultivate and grow leaders from within their own ranks. You do this by identifying future leaders at each level of management, assessing and planning their development, and measuring their results along the way. We’ll keep this one on the shelf and refer back to it a couple years down the road after we’ve moved up the Fortune rankings!

SixSigmaWayThe Six Sigma Way (Peter S. Pande, Robert P. Neuman, Roland R. Cavanagh) is like a quality process engineer’s dream come true. This book is basically the “Bible” for those individuals seeking out green belt or black belt certifications with aspirations of implementing Six-Sigma quality initiatives. However, at 400+ pages long, it is not what we in gap Book Club would consider light, off-hours reading. In all transparency, this was not our favorite book of the year. In fact, it was probably our least favorite book of the year.

6SIGonNapkinConversely, I would highly recommend the yet-unpublished, but highly impactful “Six Sigma on a Napkin,” which was literally drafted on a napkin during a business lunch at our local Sammy’s Pizza by gap consultant (and Six-Sigma Black Belt) Jane Marshall. Jane is phenomenal by the way. Condensing 400 pages into a 4-step process diagrammed on a Sammy’s napkin is genius.

KillTheCompanyKill The Company (Lisa Bodell) was also one of our favorite books of the year. It was especially timely after wading through 400 pages (and a napkin) about Six Sigma because the book promotes creative and innovative thinking–especially where process overload and status quo risk making our business and culture complacent. If I had to pick one word to describe this book, I would choose “provocative.” Thanks to a laundry list of easily implementable ideas for executive teams, managers, and all staff members alike, this is another book that has already had many impacts on our company. The most popular one so far: Kill a Stupid Rule. I count 5 stupid rules that we’ve killed just in the couple months since finishing this book, and each one has had a multiplier effect on improvement in culture, productivity, and positive attitudes.

DeliveringHappinessDelivering Happiness (Tony Hsieh) came highly recommended because it tells the story of how a little startup produced amazing results and growth thanks to an unwavering focus on company culture and the value of happiness–happy customers and happy employees. This book did not disappoint. Again, another highly entertaining read if for no other reason than to ride along with Tony Hsieh as he describes the thrilling downs and ups of overcoming adversity and leading his little internet shoe store startup to greatness (and a billion-dollar payday selling off to Amazon). We found a lot of great lessons in here, as well as validation for what we at gap intelligence strive to accomplish on a daily basis. Our motto has always been: “Culture Comes First,” which for us is a huge differentiator to our employees and our customers.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out last year’s holiday card, which we printed on actual card stock, signed and addressed with human hands and Sharpie ink, and mailed through the U.S. Postal Service (yes they still deliver snail mail) to about 1,500 individual clients around the world.

gappyspace-frontgappyspace-back

 

TippingPointAnd lastly, The Tipping Point (Malcolm Gladwell) — OK, technically we aren’t done reading this one yet (our next meeting isn’t for 2 more weeks), but (SPOILER ALERT) the title pretty much gives it away. The Tipping Point is another Gladwell book that equates popular movements to contagious epidemics–but not necessarily in a bad way. The real purpose of this book is to help identify ways in which subtle, sometimes unidentifiable changes can have massive impacts–whether you’re running a marketing campaign, rolling out a new product, or like Paul Revere, riding from Boston to Lexington in the dead of night galvanizing American forces to rise up and fight against the British incursion.

That’s all for now, folks. In 2015 we’re hoping to post our reviews more regularly and even let you know what we’re reading next. If you’re feeling up to it, we’d even love to have more of you join us. As it turns out, time goes by pretty fast when you’ve got a warm book and a warm drink, which I hear works out well for our colleagues on the east coast buried in 3-feet of snow. Then again we live in San Diego, so what do we know!

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Now & Then – A Month of Innovation

What do Benjamin Franklin, born in January 1706, and the Consumer Electronics Show 2015 have in common?BFranklin

Benjamin Franklin is known for a lot of different things…he is among the Founding Fathers of the United States, a politician, postmaster, inventor, scientist, and much more. While he may be most known for inventing the lightning rod and bifocals, Benjamin Franklin got his start in the newspaper business where he eventually became the first paper merchant in America, helping to start 18 mills in Virginia and surrounding areas. It is an understatement to say that Benjamin Franklin, born on January 17, 1706, changed the world forever.
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Franklin was born in Boston, MA as one of ten children. When he was about 12 years old, he became an apprentice to one of his brother’s, James, who was a printer. Franklin grew to understand the printing business and trade through this experience. He eventually left his brother’s paper and in 1728 set up a printing house with a partner. He began publishing The Pennsylvania Gazette, giving him a platform to share his thoughts through essays and observations. The power of the paper helped earn him a significant amount of social respect, setting the stage for what was to come.

Gulf_StreamFranklin went on to become a successful author, evolved the science of population studies, and published the Gulf Stream chart.
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Franklin then went on to investigate electricity with his famous flying kite in a storm. While he proposed the experiment in 1750, it was not until 1767 in Joseph Priestley’s History and Present Status of Electricity that Franklin’s experiment was written up with credit to him.

Franklin then moved on to experiment with light, meteorology, and the concept of cooling, resulting in his letter, Cooling by Evaporation. Franklin went on to create one of the first volunteer firefighting companies in the country, and even printed a new currency for New Jersey using anti-counterfeiting techniques that he developed. He was a strong advocate for printed paper money and wrote A Modest Enquiry into the Nature and Necessity of a Paper Currency in 1729.
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And of course, Franklin eventually contributed and signed the Declaration of Independence and is forever commemorated on the US $100 bill. 100Bill

So, what does all of this have to do with technology or anything happening today? Well, everything. Benjamin Franklin had his hand in many cookie jars as we have very, incompletely, summarized. The aforementioned innovations and ideas are just a few of the contributions that Benjamin Franklin made to the society we live in today.

CES Hisesnse

This month, the analysts from gap intelligence attended the 2015 trade show. Benjamin Franklin was born almost exactly 309 years ago to the day and here we are, still experiencing innovations and new technological advances based on many of the discoveries and inventions that he discovered. Maps, refrigerators, paper currency, newspapers, weather patterns, it is all there! We may have GPS, smart fridges, Apple Pay, and weather apps now, but none of these things would be possible without all of that up front work by Mr. Franklin.

 

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Liberty Station 4 Year gapiversary!

165648_10150126999442345_715058_nWhen I came for my first interview at gap intelligence in October 2009 I made sure to arrive early. My friend Aidan that referred me told me that gap’s office was located on the 3rd floor in downtown San Diego at the corner of 7th and C Street. That seemed easy enough to find since I lived near downtown. After easily finding parking, I headed to my first office job interview ever.

Walking through the palatial marble lobby bustling with people was intimidating. I headed to the elevators and hit the number three. As I watched the numbers light up in the elevator indicating that I was almost to the 3rd floor I felt nervous.  My fingers were crossed that my business ensemble from Forever 21 was dressy enough to make a good impression. Being greeted by a massive fish tank as I anxiously stepped out of the elevator was unexpected.
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I wasn’t sure which door I was supposed to go in so I texted Aidan to let him know I was at the office. When I informed him that I was standing by a fish tank he called me right away since there was no fish tank at gap intelligence’s headquarters. Turns out the fancy fish tank filled office was the Merrill Lynch building. After further instructions from Aidan, I head across the street to the modest office building that was surrounded by homeless people. Aidan and I had a good laugh. Luckily they hired me despite being directionally challenged.

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7th and C was so close to my house I didn’t even have to take the freeway to get to work. I would cruise down Park Boulevard and end up right downtown. The office was bright and airy with huge floor to ceiling windows. There was free gated parking next to our office. As far as dining options near the office, they were certainly limited. This office required planning lunch wise. Forgetting to pack a lunch meant you’d be walking several blocks to grab something edible to eat. The worlds tiniest Starbucks was around the corner. As long as you weren’t claustrophobic you’d be able to tackle getting your caffeine fix.

Our office was on the outskirts of downtown which meant that there wasn’t a lot of foot traffic. Little foot traffic meant questionable characters loitering near our front street entrance. These questionable characters loved to make nests near our front door. Luckily most gappers used the side entrance adjacent to the parking so these nests could be avoided. When our CEO announced that we were moving offices and that our new home would be at the recently renovated Liberty Station I was super duper excited. I knew this would be a game changer and a HUGE upgrade even if it meant saying farewell to free parking downtown.

7

14 (2)

After working two years at the 7th and C office with little to no amenities, Liberty Station was a luxurious breath of fresh air. This month marks our 4th year and it’s certainly a milestone I’d like to celebrate! As I walked across the grounds of Liberty Station this morning I couldn’t help but appreciate the lush perfectly manicured surroundings. Like most people, I spend more time at work than anywhere else.  I feel like we upgraded to a fancy college campus. On site at Liberty Station there are two grocery stores, a yoga studio, gym, fantastic restaurants, non-tiny Starbucks, hair salon, nail spa, dry cleaners, postal annex, hardware store, and even a golf course. Having so many incredible amenities steps from my office makes my life a million times better. Running errands is a breeze and I am so grateful that gap decided to make Liberty Station our home. Going to work is an absolute joy. I look back on the days of 7th and C and never ever EVER want to go back. Cheers to our 3 year gapinversay at Liberty Station! I hope we stay together 4 EVA EVA and this is our forever home!

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gapForecast: What to Expect from the Print Industry In 2015

There are a lot of reasons to feel confident in what 2015 has in store for the print industry.  The economy (at least in the US) is looking as strong as it has in recent memory, there are a number of interesting strategies and initiatives emerging, and many vendors in our industry are now posting solid profit and revenue growth.  However, there are powerful technological and behavioral changes unfolding that will impact printing as we know it, and the real storyline for 2015 and the years to come will be the evolution of our industry in the face of these changes.
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With that, below are gap intelligence’s top predictions for the print industry in 2015.  At the very least, I guarantee that these predictions are much more likely to come true than what the folks from Back to the Future II forecasted for this year.

gap’s 2015 Forecasts

  • Lineups Continue to Balance
  • The HP Split will be Fast and Change Everything!
  • Inkjets Mean Business
  • Get Ready for M&A!
  • Toner-Out Gets Locked-In
  • The Yen Boosts Profits and Pushes Down Prices

Back_to_the_Future_II

 

Lineups Continue to Balance

I told you these would be easy to predict!  Looking back on 2014, one hardware trend was very clear, the copier guys are actively expanding their A4 portfolios and the traditional printer players are similarly trying their best to grow their enterprise-class lines.
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Last year, the segment expansion trend was most pronounced among the traditional copier manufacturers, as an amazing 45% of all BTA dealer-targeted office MFPs that launched were A4s, marking a clear shift from the 25% A4 / 75% A3 average ratio from the previous four years, and suggesting that these A4 investments in 2014 will lead to increased sales activity in 2015.  Overall, the traditional printer players maintained a more A4-centric approach, but still continued to push their A4 lineups up-segment and up-market, while making a number of notable A3 additions.

A3_&_A4_Share_of_Office_MFP_LaunchesEven if the balancing of MFP portfolios won’t get the same headlines as solutions or services, you can bet this trend will dominate hardware strategies throughout the next year for very old school reasons: In a contracting market, segment expansion drives growth, and as lineups expand, having a complete portfolio will be a competitive requirement – not a nice to have.  The printer-based guys keeping their A3 lines to a minimum should keep this trend in mind.

 

The HP Split will be Fast and Change Everything!

Just kidding.  Like HP’s recent acquisitions (although hopefully it will be more successful), the separation of HP’s Print and PC business into the new HP Inc. will be a gradual process with minimal tangible impacts on HP’s printing strategy and business structure until much later in 2015 at the earliest.
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That said, just about everything HP does has a major impact on the print industry, and there have been some changes brewing within HP Inc./HP PPSG/HP IPG/et al. for some time that are much more likely to influence the print market in the coming 12 months.  In fact, perhaps HP’s highest-impact upcoming moves were tipped off within HP Inc.’s strategy briefing when the split was announced back in October.

HP_Inc_Strategy
Personal Systems – Although most of the print industry pays little attention to HP’s PC-related activities, the very purposeful use of “Multi-OS” in describing HP Inc.’s Personal Systems strategy should have set off alarms.  We’re still the peripheral after all.  The fact is, between Chrome growing among consumers and within key verticals, Android expanding both within and beyond mobile segments, and the OS possibilities of the Internet of Things, the need to connect way beyond the Windows OS has never been stronger.  The print industry generally lags behind platform shifts (just ask the guys who built all of these BlackBerry print apps), so we’ll see how manufacturers adapt to the Multi-OS future this year, but it has to happen soon.

Printing – HP Inc.’s Printing strategic pillar screams “inkjet technology” (fast, affordable, engineered by HP = inkjet), and you can bet that 2015 will be highlighted by HP’s continued efforts to push its inkjets deeper into B2B channels and enterprise environments.  There will of course still be a lot of laser activity from HP and we could also see some cool SMB-ready solutions as well as new and better ways to deliver service and supplies to customers, but once again, HP’s printing future looks very very inky.  If this HP ink trend keeps up, maybe in 2016’s forecast we’ll write about Canon Inc. becoming the majority stakeholder in the newly spun-off HP Inc…..

 

Inkjets Mean Business

Good segue, right?  As home printing continues to decline and the benefits of inkjet technology keep chipping away at the traditional laser value proposition, it’s hard not to see this one coming.  By hook or by crook, inkjet print manufacturers/divisions are going to do everything they can to infiltrate B2B channels and customers in 2015.  In the world of forecasts, this is a layup.  I guarantee it.

After years of office inkjets bumping up against a $400 / 20ppm ceiling, the HP Officejet Pro X series expanded the business inkjet segment to $699 / 42ppm in 2013, carving out a double digit share of the A4 Color Small Workteam MFP market by 2014 on the strength of its astounding TCO advantages over direct laser competitors (see below).  If that didn’t catch everyone’s attention, last year brought the world’s first $1k-plus enterprise-class inkjets with a similar low TCO value proposition.  Also, looking at the current business inkjet MFP assortment (see below again), it’s easy to see how much lineup expansion opportunities still exist within the business inkjet segment, both within the existing $500 – $2,000 price range and eventually into higher speed/price bands.

Pro_X_-_gapTCO

Business_Inkjet_LandscapeSure, these first and second generation business inkjets will face their share of adoption and performance challenges, and the laser guys have no shortages of reasons to naysay inkjet technology.  However, given the initial success of the Pro X line and based on the strength of these inkjets’ exceptionally low TCO, these products are going to sell.  And considering that business printing is pretty much a flat market, nearly every business inkjet sale is going to be at the expense of a laser-based product, making the need for laser vendors to shift from naysaying business inkjets to competitive responding to business inkjets a strategic necessity.

 

Get Ready for M&A!

At the very best, the office MFP industry is deep in its maturity phase, which is pretty good considering it’s been 76 years since Xerox invented and launched the first copier.  However, this milestone still serves as a strong indicator that the MFP market is going to act its age in 2015, particularly in the form of increased merger and acquisition activity, targeting a few key areas:

MFP_Lifecycle
Dealer Channel Acquisitions– For the larger and more sophisticated dealers, competitive acquisitions represent a core part of their geographic, capability, and account expansion strategies.  Meanwhile, many of the dealers that have struggled/refused to evolve in recent years increasingly see being acquired as their primary exit strategy.  Seems like a match made in heaven…  Throw in a handful of expected OEM direct acquisitions, and it is all but guaranteed that 2015 will bring a surge in channel acquisitions.

Software Developer Acquisitions – A wise man once said, “software is hard.” It’s hard to develop software if you are small and don’t have the funding to do it right and it’s hard to justify developing your own software if you’re big enough to realize it can be a much safer investment to buy the small guys than try to develop software yourself.  Because of these factors and because of the vital importance placed on solutions-led sales, expect a big target on software companies this year.  It’s even possible that buyers not named Lexmark/Perceptive, Nuance, and EFI will be involved.

Adjacent Channel/Capability Expansion Acquisitions – Whether it’s Managed IT Services or ECM, the vendors and dealers that are paying attention know it’s time to diversify their revenue sources and differentiate their offering, and once again, that is going to mean more acquisitions outside of what was considered part of the MFP industry just a few years ago.  I’m still trying to wrap my head around how many Managed IT providers the world’s SMBs really need or how many copier guys can trick themselves into adopting an IT mindset, but until we know the answers to those mysteries, expect adjacent-targeted acquisitions to play a major role throughout 2015.

Manufacturer Acquisitions – I’m actually not forecasting any major OEM acquisitions this year.  That said, sometime in the not too distant future, it’s going to happen again.  There are 15 legitimate multinational companies making and selling office printers and MFPs right now (18 depending on how you define “legitimate multinational”).  I dare you to name any other mature industry with that kind of competitive population.  Once again, more OEM acquisitions are going to happen.

 

Toner-Out Gets Locked-In

You have to feel for the printer-based guys.  Transactional channels and the toner-out supply model do not exactly promote customer loyalty or allow for account control, and if you’re selling hardware at a loss (or at low margins), that’s a deal breaker.  With that, it’s no surprise that the major printer OEMs are significantly increasing their investments in new programs centered around locking-in these customers, with a focus on auto toner fulfillment, a shift to new billing/metering methods, and even an increased openness towards slinging non-OEM toner.

Xerox_toner_delivery
Some may point out that the mechanics of auto toner delivery is far from new, as the non-OEM guys and supply distributors have been doing it for years, but the key difference here is a closer direct connection between the manufacturer and the once-transactional end user, even if resellers are still serving as the middle men or distributors are still handling the logistics.

I’ve been saying for a while that entry-level MPS is more about infrastructure than about the human and process elements vital to larger MPS deals, and programs like these are actually not too different than how small SMB managed print services is delivered, they just need some added assessment and optimization.  In fact, for a number of vendors, these programs are positioned as the entry point (HP, Xerox, Lexmark) or even a core part (Epson, Brother) of their MPS continuums, making these programs both a strategic and financial priority for many OEMs.

Look for this trend to continue in 2015, and considering that the transactional toner-out market still represents a $30 billion-plus opportunity, it may be wise for the copier guys to start building out their own delivery infrastructure.

 

The Yen Boosts Profits and Pushes Down Prices

Two months after Prime Minister Abe and the Bank of Japan launched a round of new and more aggressive stimulus programs that would make even Tim Geithner squeamish, the yen is starting off 2015 with an unprecedented downward trajectory.  This is great news for our industry’s many export-centric Japanese OEMs, and not so great for their US and Korean competitors.

USD_to_JPY_Good_Trend
Yen_Asset_Buying_Spree
While Japan’s stimulus moves have significant economic implications, it is important to note that the resultant weakening of the yen will also have a major impact on the print industry, which remains closely linked to Japan’s economy and currency.  Roughly 67% of all active copier-based MFPs and 80% of all active laser printers in gap intelligence’s US Price & Promotions Reports feature engines made by Japanese companies, as the majority of printer and MFP manufacturers are Japanese and the key US-based players including HP, Lexmark, Xerox, and Dell source a large portion of their engines from Japanese partners (Canon, Fuji Xerox, Konica Minolta, Casio).

Japan_-_Laser_Printer_&_MFP_Engine_OEMs
Short term, the weakened yen stands to help much of the industry, as Japanese manufacturers will see their revenue and profits rise, US and European subsidiaries and OEM partners will have more leverage in price negotiations, and vendors may have more capital to acquire and develop new service and solution capabilities. Meanwhile, the declining yen will likely create challenges for many non-Japanese players, who may face greater competitive pressures without the same currency factors to help offset price cuts and promotional investments.

 

Conclusion

To quote the only Yankee I’ll ever like, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”  That said, looking at these ongoing trends within the printing industry, even Yogi Berra might agree that the industry’s crystal ball is a bit clearer going into 2015.

Although a lot of these expected 2015 highlights could easily be viewed as attempts to grow share within a flat-to-declining market, the print industry’s challenges are certainly bringing forth some innovative responses, and we believe that this innovative spirit is what is going to drive ongoing success beyond 2015.

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Super Bowl Stats Inspire how to determine if a Laser Cartridge is Remanufactured or Compatible

2015-01-13_1147_i_love_statsI love a good statistic. The numbers have such a way of drawing you in to make you read more, because what good is a stat without a fun fact behind it? This is a great time of the year for stats because the Super Bowl is right around the corner, and it’s impossible to watch football without hearing a couple dozen of them.  I also have some Super Bowl stats of my own, for example:

99%

This is the percent chance that I’ll be watching the Super Bowl this year. The percent that I care who wins has yet to be determined. Regardless of who plays, it hasn’t been high since the Chargers’ season officially ended, but I still enjoy watching the game and eating like it’s a holiday.
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But the point of this blog is not to talk about Super Bowl stats. The topic served as my inspiration from a timing and format perspective (think of this as a Super Bowl stat sheet), but what I really want to talk about is toner cartridge stats. A recent topic of interest I’ve encountered is the classification of cartridges as either remanufactured (where a new cartridge is produced using an empty cartridge that has been cleaned, parts replaced, and refilled) or new-build, a.k.a. compatible (where a new cartridge is manufactured using all new parts and components; henceforth, any reference to compatible will refer to a new-build compatible). While this would be an important “stat” to have, this type of classification is something we can’t currently provide for the thousands of non-OEM SKUs in the gap intelligence database because it’s really tricky to capture, as the information is not always provided or confusing language is used that makes the distinction unclear.
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Despite the confusing language, there are other indicators that can give you a good idea of whether a cartridge is remanufactured or compatible. While external wear or signs of usage on the cartridge itself can be a sign that the product is remanufactured, this is probably not the most accurate method since we’re not in any position to be purchasing thousands of SKUs just to look at the cartridge. This leads me to the next indicator that you can see before purchasing the cartridge: price! Along with price, it’s also important to take into consideration the channel in which the cartridge is selling, as that can have an impact on the final price. This is where the stats come in…

30%

This is the ‘rule of thumb’ percentage that is used as a threshold to help determine whether a cartridge is remanufactured or compatible. According to this guideline, genuinely remanufactured cartridges are typically priced within 30% of the OEM price, while compatibles are often priced lower because they can cost less to produce and/or import. But I wanted to investigate just how good of an indicator this is using a cartridge tracked in our database, the HP CE285A. I chose this particular toner because it has one of the highest number of available non-OEM HP alternatives, as tracked by the gap intelligence online channel of direct ecommerce (online only DMR, think CDW, PCMall, etc.) and retail.com (think staples.com, officedepot.com, etc.) resellers*.
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28

This is the number of non-OEM replacements in the online channel (not including extended yield or MICR) available for HP’s CE285A SKU. Of the 28, I could reasonably classify 18 as remanufactured and six as compatible, while the remaining four were either unclear or did not give any indication.

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32%

This is the average discount off the price of the OEM CE285A delivered by the 28 available non-OEM SKUs. HP lists the CE285A for $68.99 and the average price of the 28 non-OEM SKUs is $46.97, resulting in the 32% average discount delivered by a non-OEM cartridge. Bonus stat: 32% is just under the average 41% price discount calculated across all non-OEM HP SKUs tracked in the gap intelligence online channel.

27%, 40%, 42%

These are the respective average price discounts off the OEM for the remanufactured, compatible, and unclassified cartridges. The average price across the 18 remanufactured cartridges came in at $50.38, while the compatible and unclassified captured higher $41.41 and $40 average price points. Based on these percentages, the remanufactured and compatible cartridges seem to be abiding by the 30% rule. This is also when my suspicions began about the unclassified cartridges being compatibles. But as previously mentioned, channel also plays an important part with regard to price.

2015-01-13_1148_image_2

43%

This is the average price discount off the OEM for non-OEM cartridges available only from Amazon (not surprising since Amazon often carries the lowest prices). The channel with the next highest price discount, again not surprising, was the direct ecom channel at an average of 31%. Coming in with the lowest discount off the OEM were cartridges available only in retail.com or in both online channels (ecom direct and retail.com) at 22% and 21%, respectively. Based on this, it is clear that the channel and reseller can have a significant impact on non-OEM pricing.
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35%, 54%, 36%, 43%

These are the discounts off the OEM for the remaining unclassified cartridges from Print-Rite (retail.com), Performance Plus+ (Amazon), Printlogic, and QIP (Direct Ecom). While I don’t know for sure, I would classify all of the uncategorized cartridges as compatible, based on the above findings and considerations for pricing, channel, and resellers.

2015-01-13_1158_image_6

Of course there are always some exceptions. A couple of the remanufactured cartridges had discounts over 30% and a few of compatible cartridges had discounts under 30%, but most of them could be justified by also taking the channel into account. Ultimately however, the 30% price discount rule seems to be a reasonable way to help determine whether a cartridge is remanufactured or compatible, when used in conjunction with other considerations mentioned above. Like some football stats, at the very least the evidence suggests that it can serve as an indicator of what to expect. If only there was a way to use this to help predict the outcome of the Super Bowl… or is there?

29-17

This may or may not be the final score.

*gap intelligence online channel includes:
Direct Ecom: Dell Home, Dell Business, PC Nation, CDW, Sparco, Insight, PcMall, PC Connection, Amazon, Rakuten, and SuperWarehouse.
Retail.com: OfficeDepot.com, Staples.com, BestBuy.com, Frys.com, TigerDirect.com, MicroCenter.com, Sams.com, Costco.com, Sears.com, Target.com, and Walmart.com
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