By Gerry Mulvaney, European Sales Manager, Landa Digital Printing
Apparently hindsight is a wonderful asset, but not nearly as useful as foresight. I tend to agree – if I could see into the future I would probably have entered one of the Euro lotteries by now and be enjoying some of the fruits of winning. Instead I was asked to give my views recently to an industry think tank, forecasting the future of digital printing in the 21st century. Where would you start?
I decided to use one of the tried and tested techniques of sales forecasting – look back at what happened in the past and build on that. Once you can see patterns developing, you can start to roll them forward and at least get some idea of direction and trends of the future.
Looking back at the 20th century a few things stand out. Some of the more outlandish forecasts from the early part of the century, like men landing on the moon and moving pictures being sent through the air turned into reality courtesy of NASA and John Logie Baird.
It is unlikely that anyone would have thought letterpress printing would be overtaken by offset lithography, let alone turned digital by Benny Landa. Or that music, photography or books would also have become digital media by the time the century closed.
Another influencing factor is the way that the uptake of new technology accelerated as the century went on – while it took nearly 100 years for telephones to have universal market penetration, it took the Internet less than 15 years. As the years passed, the consumers took to new technology much more quickly. I looked at the way Xerography had impacted on print and it is clear that while it was profitable for Xerox when they held a monopoly on the technology, the minute it was released to other vendors, a much bigger market was created and Xerox’s profitability grew exponentially.
The future of the printing industry
So looking at the future of digital print in the 21st century – the trend for commercial print and publishing continuing to decline as result of technology like tablets, smartphones and the Internet is likely to continue. Many of those involved in these areas of print production are likely to fail, unless they change and adapt to the challenge.
It seems to me that the growth of packaging is one bright spot on the horizon as demands like global population growth; urbanisation and industrialisation in the undeveloped world; more single dwellers; women in the workplace; “big data”; and generation Y push versioning and personalisation to the top of the agenda for brands. This is a major opportunity for early adopters of technology like Landa’s Nanography® to grab a slice of this new market.
Landa has learned from the Xerography model and licenced technology to other press manufacturers, which is why I think the trend of accelerated growth, will see Nanography being used in applications not covered by Landa presses. One thing is for certain, the person writing the Landa blog in 2113 will have a few surprises to report on.
To learn more about the future of printing, click here.