On March 4th, a story in The Japan Times carried the title, "Is Print Dead? With the Shift to Digital, Office-Equipment Giant Ricoh Votes Yes." Naturally, this caused quite a stir in the printing world, with everyone from Ricoh dealerships to supply vendors spinning in circles trying to understand what they were hearing. However, it appears this was no more than a case of the press seizing upon a misunderstood statement and spinning it into something it was never intended to be. On March 3rd, Ricoh Japan held a meeting with the investor community during which they announced their global strategy to push further into digital services as they move forward. This was not intended to be a signal that they were moving away from print in order to do this, but rather to exapand the offerings that their print equipment lines could partner with.
In fact, in a response directed to US Ricoh dealerships, it was confirmed that Ricoh is actually updating their A3 and A4 products and operating systems to expand the equipment catalogue. The push on digital services is intended as a compliminetry offering to evolve with changing customer needs and allow the equipment lines to work more effectivly in solving end users' business challenges. So, rather then giving up focus on the print industry, Ricoh is expanding it's focus to better adapt it's offerings and further solidify it's presence in the print industry of tomorrow.
To gain further insight into this, see Andy Slawetsky's interview with Ricoh VP of Dealer Reseller Channel, Jim Coriddi, where they discuss this in greater depth.