TI quits printer business

Texas Instruments (TI) is admitting defeat and quitting the PC printer business.

High-end printer and network management vendor Genicom is buying TI's operations for an undisclosed sum with completion expected inside the next 60 days. It will continue to sell TI's mid-range lasers, high-end serial printers, and automated ticket processing systems but will phase out TI's entry-level units. In a prepared system, TI said the deal would allow its Personal Productivity division to focus on notebook PCs and calculators.

"It's not really a surprise, they were never very strong," said Lucy Pedrick, senior analyst at Romtec market research, which gives TI close to a zero share in inkjet and not much better in lasers for the UK. "When people want to buy a laser printer they think of Hewlett-Packard (HP) and then perhaps Lexmark, Apple, Brother and Panasonic. When I think of TI, I think of calculators, not printers. It's better they stick to the areas they know."

John Yelland, UK marketing manager at HP, said the deal could be notice of a trend. "The interesting element is that in any mature industry you start to see acquisitions and mergers. This isn't necessarily the first domino but we have seen firms like Compaq come and go and smaller companies getting out. I think we'll end up with a few key players.

"We never really came across them much in consumer or corporate. I didn't think of them in terms of printers; I saw them as an electronics company."

PCDN COMMENT:

TI's exit is for the best. For the last two years the firm has pushed its notebook products and let printers take a back seat. In notebooks, TI has recruited top brass capable of taking R&D that were already excellent and turning the company into genuine rivals to the likes of Toshiba, IBM and Compaq. This sale provides more focus although, particularly in Europe, it remains to be seen whether TI can rid itself of a cumbersome brand image.

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