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Dye-Sub Printer Giant Mitsubishi Exits Photo Market

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The Societies’ HQ has learned of plans for one of the most prominent brands in the photo printer market, Mitsubishi, which is halting the production of all of its products in both the photo and medical printing sectors.

This is a revelation that will undoubtedly concern many of our readers; particularly those using Mitsubishi hardware within their printing solutions and overall business workflow. The question is, with the increase in popularity of mobile/dye-sublimation, [dye-sub] printing, we ponder what the motives might be for the brand’s decision to pull the plug after so many years and apparent success in the photo sector. Mitsubishi Electric has produced printers since 1983 and cemented its name in the photography world, becoming a leader in supplying dye-sub printing products to a broad range of photographers and photography businesses including wedding photographers, photo booth operators, schools photographers and retail kiosks.

A recent study by Data Bridge Market Research found that the Global Mobile Photo Printer Market is growing at a substantial compound annual growth rate [CAGR] of 5.7% during the forecast period of 2019 to 2026. Several factors contribute to these stats including the maturity and reliability of dye-sub printing technology and its supporting software solutions along with the demand for advanced tablets and smartphones.

Essentially, it’s a booming market, so why is it Mitsubishi is leaving it behind?

In a recent conversation with the online photo magazine and analogue store, PhotoBite.UK, Mitsubishi Electric’s Regional Manager UK, Middle East and Africa, Paul Jones, said: “Mitsubishi Electric will cease the production of printer products, this includes both photo and medical devices. Right now, we are focused on customer support and making sure that our loyal customer base is looked after.” Paul added: “There are several factors which have compounded and resulted in the company’s decision to leave the photo printer market. These include the wider business synergy and product competitiveness. We have explained the situation to our trade partners and outlined the ongoing supply options and will continue to produce hardware to satisfy existing orders [only]. We are planning the final shipments to be 31 March 2022 at the latest.”

One of Mitsubishi’s major competitors in the photo arena, Citizen, is perhaps best known for its watch business. However, Citizen is prominent in many other industry sectors including photo printers, where much of the precision-engineering skills are transferred to the mechanics of their printer products. Unsurprisingly, this makes them hard to beat in terms of durability and reliability. The print quality is also excellent, so could it be that Mitsubishi’s exit signals an opportunity for its competitors?

Derek Fieldhouse, Managing Director of PhotoXport, one of the world’s most reputable photo printing equipment suppliers and Official Photo Reseller for Citizen Systems Europe. Derek said: “Mitsubishi has decided to leave the photo market for reasons that only they could justify and the opportunity this presents for Citizen in the dye-sub space is significant. Whilst Mitsubishi is well recognised in the photo business, Citizen’s products outperform them on many levels; not least the sheer quality of the manufacture. Of course, users can also expect first-class service from Citizen’s trusted network of reseller partners.”

Derek added: “We’re anticipating a golden time for photo printing. Throughout the Covid crisis, people have been isolated and forced to live in an almost exclusively digital world. This has created a burgeoning appetite to socialise [once more]. People are itching to celebrate their freedom and the ability to experience physical, human interactions and events. This is very likely to translate into a greater appetite for physical, and not digital, artefacts such as photographs.”

From what we can discern, Derek could well be right. The resurgence of the events market saw a notable jump directly after the UK PM announced a national ‘roadmap to recovery’. International lifestyle mag, Harper’s Bazaar, reported that Bridebook, The No.1 Wedding Planning App, crashed after a 720% surge in traffic following the UK official announcement and we’re surrounded by news of photo booth businesses and corporate/awards photographers’ telephones ringing off the hook! Photo labs and camera stores with instant-print kiosks will also be open soon, giving opportunities for people to preserve their precious memories in this familiar physical format.

So, now that Mitsubishi has announced its departure from the photo sector, where should you look for your dye-sub printing supplies? One thing is for certain with the anticipated global rush in demand; you really don’t want to risk the possibility of unwanted downtime. With printing, time is money and so it’s important to know that your equipment will deliver, time after time.