Editorial: Japanese story

As we remember the fallen on Anzac Day, one of the heartening exeriences is the sharing of the event with former foes who are now firm friends. A Turkish crewed boat as part of the re-enacement of the Gallipoli landings on Collaroy Beach was a typical example of better relations in practice, clear evidence of the closer world which we now inhabit.

The global printing industry is part of that closer world, many Australian print businesses have relationships with printers overseas, whether just as friends who share a beer at drupa or a similar event, or with a working relationship where jobs are shared.

The travails which have afflicted the Australian print industry since the onset of the GFC are shared by print industries around the world to a greater or lesser degree.

In Tokyo at an Igas presentation it was instructive to look at a graph of the sales value of Japanese printers, which looked like a diagram of Mount Everest, with sales shooting up between 1975 and 1990 and then falling ever since. In good news sales in 2014 stablilised at 2013 levels, but on the bad news front that level was the same as 1985.

Just like Australia, in Japan there are far too many printing businesses, and we were told, just like in Australia, the businesses that are struggling are trying to do what they have always done and are not investing in progress, while those that are not only surviving but growing are those that have focused on developing niche markets and making them their own.

Often this is through innovation, whether self-developed or bought in, or a combination.

We were shown a print job where a mum peeled off the side of an advert on the back of a magazine which became a bracelet for her child, she then downloaded an app onto her smartphone which activated the bracelet into a trackable device. If the child moved a certain distance away from the smartphone, determined by the mum, an alarm would sound and the app would point the mum in the direction of the errant child.

How good is that, and which mum would not want to use it for example at the beach. More importantly, how much could a printer charge a client for producing that, bit more than just printing the ad I would imagine, as the client will get a far higher ROI then a straightforward print job. Innovation in action.

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