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Home > Interviews > Optical Storage

Thursday, January 05, 2006
Interview With Mr Mitch Ackmann of Microboards Technology

1. Page 1

Microboards has been around since 1989. The company started out by importing and selling the first CD recorders and recordable media in the U.S. As recordable technology grew, Manufacturers sought Microboards out and the company eventually became a value-added distributor for a variety of recordable products. Microboards invented the world’s first tower duplicator in the early 90s, and has been heavily involved in the introduction and growth of automated duplication and printing. In 2001, the company acquired a manufacturing facility, which has allowed it to broaden its product line to include automated duplication.

CDRInfo talks with Mr Mitch Ackmann, President and COO of Microboards Technology, about the future of the CD/DVD duplication/replication as well as the presence of Microboards in the optical storage industry.

Microboards is best known for its CD/DVD duplicators. What position does your company hold in the global market today?

It is difficult to know market share, as many of the industry’s most important players are privately held. But we are confident that we command one of the strongest market presences in this industry.

A look at the recent past shows that most of the CD/DVD duplication and printing products are highly customized, difficult to maintain, and quite expensive, at least for small companies and certainly for everyday consumers. How and when will recordable media printers and duplicators become more easily accessible to consumers?

CD/DVD Duplicators are getting less expensive every day – most PCs have basic copying ability built in right now. But the printing function has been slow to reach that consumer price point. That’s largely because all consumer printing technology (inkjet and laser) was developed around a curved paper path with a rectangular media, and without regard for rigid or round media. Microboards is fortunate to have developed several patents around media handling that reduces the number of moving parts, the footprint, and the manufacturing cost of disc printers, so we see great progress ahead for consumers in the years to come.

What are Microboards' weaknesses?

Chocolate and well-prepared Steak.

Seriously though, we work very hard, and want our customers to be pleased with us, almost to a fault. We try hard to make them want to do business with us. We take customer feedback seriously and act on it.

What differentiates Microboards from other distributors and how does it stand out from being just another distributor?

Microboards stands out for a number of reasons. While it is unusual, we are a manufacturer as well as a distributor, so there is more direct communication between us and the market. We have intellectual property – patents on media handling and printing – that give us a unique edge in providing new solutions. More importantly, we have a very loyal, broad, and well- trained channel to service our customer base. Our resellers' depth of experience gives us unusual strength with every kind of end user we deal with - from garage bands to Fortune 100 companies.We have a unique and long-standing focus on 12cm Media, so we truly are very expert in it. We are specialists, and we don’t focus on anything that is not CD/DVD related, which makes us a unique Value-Add Distributor for all the CD/DVD product lines we carry.

You work closely with Rimage, Primera and other manufacturers in the duplication industry. Yet aren't these companies Microboards' competitors?

We do work closely with Rimage. But while they manufacture machinery with similar components (recorders and printers for producing discs), the similarities end there.

Rimage has Everest Printing capability – it combines silkscreen quality print with silkscreen quality durability that is uniquely suited to applications that need both vibrant printing and longevity in their image. Rimage’s network capability and SDK for integrating their software with other solutions are unmatched. When a situation calls for a Rimage product, a Microboards product will not fit the bill; typically Rimage situations are mission critical, variable data, and system integrated. Microboards products, on the other hand, fit best into mid-to large run duplication environments. We no longer work closely with Primera – they have deviated to a lower-level consumer focus, where Rimage and Microboards are focused on partnering into industrial applications.

We have seen in the past, what can be considered in the main as unsuccessful attempts from far-east companies wanting to enter the recordable media, printer and duplicator market. What in your opinion are the reasons for their failure?

These companies develop a product and attempt to drive it to market on price alone – and in most cases you get what you pay for. Duplicators are designed to simplify work for content professionals and other people publishing large amounts of data; since every application is unique, you need a wide product offering and skilled staff in order to put the right solution to work in each situation. We pride ourselves on having great pre-sale and post-sale support for exactly that reason.

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