AFP Color Consortium Marks Milestone
Published: February 1, 2006
by Alex Woodie
In a bid to pump up the market for high-speed color printers, IBM and 26 partners of the AFP Color Consortium announced Friday that they have begun releasing as open source the new color elements of the Advanced Function Printing (AFP) architecture. IBM also announced the formation of a new community Web site at www.afpcolor.org to help with the distribution of documentation and related information (although the site was not live as this story went to press).
IBM created the AFP Color Consortium in October 2004 as a way to get other hardware and software vendors involved in the development of the AFP architecture. AFP has long been employed by IBM customers, mainly iSeries and mainframe users, for high-volume production print jobs of bills, statements, and other business correspondence. By opening the door a bit in the future development of the architecture, IBM is hoping to keep interest in the AFP architecture high as demand for full-color printing increases, and organizations look for ways to retire their pre-printed forms.
IBM cites a recent study by InfoTrends/CAP Ventures that found the "variable color printing" business is expected to grow from $4 billion in 2004 to $11 billion in 2009, representing a compound annual growth rate of 22 percent. IBM wants a big chunk of that growth, and is willing to get it by giving up a little business to other AFP Color Consortium members, including hardware vendors like Xerox, Lexmark, Oce, Kodak, and Xeikon, and a variety of software vendors, too.
Keenie McDonald, general manager of IBM's printing systems division, says the publication of open-source color elements of the AFP architecture marks a milestone in the evolution of high-volume business printing. "By addressing the full range of technical specifications associated with printing in color, the consortium is helping take the industry to the next level and is paving the way for future innovation across the AFP architecture."