Eastman Kodak Co.'s ambition to make its copiers function in computerized office systems may be closer to realization. Its new 1500 Series of high-end copiers, set for a Jan. 22 introduction, could vault the Rochester (N. Y.) company into "document processing." As stand-alone machines, analysts say, the 1500s are impressive. They can scan and digitally store a document for later printing at speeds as fast as 70 copies a minute.
But the real payoff for Kodak could come down the road. Kodak says it can build a multifunction system by tying the 1500 into networks of office computers. That way, the copier can serve as the printer and facsimile machine for dozens of workstations. The same idea already occurred to Xerox Corp., which introduced its $220,000 DocuTech copier last summer. The 1500 is only half as fast as the DocuTech and lacks some of its capabilities, but it sells for only 20% of the Xerox machine's price. Another new Kodak copier, the $5,500 Ektaplus 7016 printer, has document-processing features, too. In addition to products, analysts warn, Kodak needs to retrain its copier sales force to tackle the document-processing market. "They have to reestablish themselves." says Robert P. Sherry, a vice-president at market researcher Gartner Group.