Thursday, March 16, 2017

HP-Boise sells out to State of Idaho

Stunning news today, at least from an Idaho perspective

In a stunning development, at least for a few HP old-timers like me, it was revealed that the State of Idaho is in the process of buying the HP-Boise site, with the company leasing back half the space for its ongoing business at the Boise site. revealed in the "scoop" by the Spokane (WA) -based Spokesman Review reporter Betsy Russell.

Shortly following Russell's story, the Idaho Statesman has the story adding additional details and perspective, including a local real estate leader's worries about the future of HP in Boise. While that concern has many factors that will play out over time, this change is significant in itself. Going back to my early days working at the what was then the shiny-new site, the thought of our "Silicon Valley North" oasis being taken over by something as mundane as the State of Idaho's Tax Commission would have been unthinkable.

I joined the Disc Memory Division in 1981, then a "captive" supplier for HP minicomputers, had the Idaho Tax Commission as a customer. They were a small customer, but nearby, and I remember a team heading out for a "field trip" to help them get their new drives up and running, with lengths of HP-IB cables in tow. How times change!

The Idaho Statesman story features a lovely airborne shot of the soon-to-be State of Idaho property

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

GIF Printing

Today brought to light a development in printing that I view as more fun than anything else. But since fun often places high on the interest list for me, I am sharing here.

The new-product site Product Hunt, one of my favorites, is featuring Print a GIF - and the interest is quite high. The solution - to "Turn any gif into a printable flip book" - is ranked in second place in today's listing, based on reader "likes" of the over-20 entries. As already mentioned, I mostly think of "fun" when I look at "Print a GIF", but it is tagged in five categories in PH, leading with "Productivity" and "Get Shit Done". Interesting!

"Print a GIF" holding a lofty #2 position among today's Product Hunt entries

Monday, January 23, 2017

Apps for your Printer - Remember when HP tried those?

Report - Problem with voice apps - stickiness
As an owner of Amazon Echo aka Alexa, and a gifter of Google Home, I was extra-curious about this morning's story in ReCode. Covering the market with a focus on "voice apps", writer Jason Del Ray looks at a new report by VoiceLabs and their analysis of the burgeoning market and the accompanying "Skills" (in Amazon lingo), or something more generically referred to as "apps". I recommend reading the article as well as the report summary.

The analysis also took me back to HP's "Printer Apps" which were announced in 2009 (hard to believe it's been nearly eight years). It was part of an overall launch of web-relevant printing-related products. From a post I filed on June 22, 2009, the day of the event in San Francisco (see "HP Reveals! Web-enabled inkjet all-in-one sets new industry direction"):

When it came time to unveil, at the Current Media studios in San Francisco, HP Imaging and Printing leader Vyomesh Joshi unveiled the "The HP Photosmart Premium with TouchSmart Web", a $399 inkjet all-in-one (available in September) that features direct Web access and provides a platform for application developers, with print-centric interests, complete with API's and an iTunes-like online app store dubbed "HP Apps Studio".
I remember talking to HP's then-top printer executive Vyomesh Joshi at the event, and suggested that his business was quite savvy in recognize the growth of apps for smartphones and tablets, and being a "fast follower" getting into their own apps. When I expressed that same sentiment to other HP attendees, also suggesting that it was a low-risk, worth-a-try endeavor, they argued that it was virtually guaranteed to be a success (this included that printer all-in-one with the multisyllabic name) and not a risk at all. that  I reported when their Apps Studio came online in September, and then visited and reported a few more times as the stable of apps, and reviewers, grew over time.

But the individual apps and Apps Studio never did pick up any real momentum, that printer model is now long forgotten, and the overall effort is only a memory for me, and I am betting that I am among the few who even remember "printer apps" at all. As to be expected, the old link to the app store from my post "HP's Print Apps Store update" gets hung up when I try to click through it, and the "home" site back then, the "HP Creative Studio", now takes me to - quite interesting since that part of HP was sold off in April 2015 prior to the split into HP Inc and HP Enterprise. (See "HP Sells Snapfish - cites focus".)

That's probably enough looking back for now. And as I write so long here, let me say out loud, "Alexa play nostalgic music" and bingo, "she" says "Here's some music you might like", and serves up Van Morrison singing "Crazy Love", followed by America's "Horse with no Name" - love my Amazon Echo!

What the HP Printer App store (dubbed App Studio) looked like in October 2009

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

HP Inc's Sprocket printer - a hot (make that scorching) holiday gift item!

Teddy Ruxpin was one of those highly desirable toys in short supply during the 80's
It started with toys, as I remember. The hot item that was in short supply during peak shopping season, and crazed parents would go to any length to get their kid the product of the year. I recall Cabbage Patch dolls, Furbees, and Teddy Ruxpin - the latter being the one I proudly "scored" for unwrapping under the tree.

Those feeding frenzies were before the widespread adoption of the internet and auction/shopping sites like eBay, which may have even upped the ante. The incursion of tech also played into the equation on the in-demand product side, too. It also became a not-particularly-holiday-driven phenomenon (I'm leaving out those pup-tent dwellers outside Best Buy for days before Black Friday). For a number of years (and mostly missing my demographic) the hot items were mostly things like the latest video game consoles. But I got back into it, at least as a very interested observer, when my Google Glass, purchased from the company as part of the Explorer program for $1500, and seeing those being offered for between $3,000 and $5,000 on eBay during the latter months of 2013. (See my post - note that was on another blog, which I had established as my personal contribution to the Glass hype of that year).

Snapchat Spectacles have a list price of $129
So connecting the dots from those early shopping frenzies leading up to Google Glass, one might conclude that Snapchat Spectacles would be the high-premium item this year. With their sketchy retail availability and "cool" factor, that was definitely true, as least a month ago, though eBay prices (bids and offers) have slipped significantly recently, down to a few hundred dollars.

HP's Sprocket printer is in high demand this holiday season, as this recent eBay buy-it-now listing shows

HP Shopping and other retailers are sold out!
And currently up there with the Spectacles' eBay-to-list-price ratio right now? It's the pocket-sized HP Sprocket Photo Printer, introduced early this year. I had posted about its appearance in the HP Q4 Earnings briefing deck in November as an HP Inc. Printing and Imaging highlight, and on further investigation which I had promised last week, lo and behold, it's a holiday season phenom!

More coming on its speeds and feeds in a future post, when I can get my hands on one!!!

Monday, December 05, 2016

My first "irregular" Observations

From HP Inc's Q4FY16 Results Presentation
Wow! Checking my last post (which announced the end of my regular monthly "Observations"), I was good to my word - nothing at all for the months of October or November.

But with the feeling that it's been too long, here I am with some reflections on HP's printing results for its fourth quarter, which ended October 31st and was reported a few weeks later. Overall, the numbers were not good, with a continuing decrease in quarterly revenues, as compared to prior years. A few glimmers of hope made it into the numbers (commercial hardware units and revenues ticked up a bit for example), but I was particular intrigued by what made it into a bullet point on the slide I have inserted above.

They included a final bullet as follows: "Innovation: Announced A3 platform, 13 laser and 3 ink models. Launched Sprocket, a mobile photo printer, and new Indigo platforms for Graphics", which got my attention and has had me thinking ever since! Perhaps it is the convergence with my own life? I have been spending much of my time lately (while I was not blogging) teaching a class called "Product Design and Development", and if there is a single key word to describe that class, it would be "innovation". Or maybe seeing a mobile photo printer named Sprocket make it to HP Printing's short list has been what's caused my curiosity to linger?

One thing I learned during my career actually involved in development projects is that, consistent with the old adage about "a watched pot never boils", stepping away from the action for awhile does have the effect of making those aforementioned projects seem to move along much faster! So maybe this is going on, but regardless, it seems the HP Sprocket is screaming for some investigation and reporting on my part. So as I so often ended my regular Observations, stay tuned!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

September 2016 Observations - The writing (printing?) is on the wall…

Getting ready to “file” my monthly “Observations” for the 130th time since its debut in December 2005 in the Hard Copy Observer, it dawned on me (actually after much thought) that it was time to announce a change.

To review a little history (always a sweet spot for me), I had a great career with Hewlett-Packard beginning in 1981 that stretched 25 years until the end of 2005, with most it affiliated with the incredible rise of HP and the LaserJet (and other) printers. At that point, offered an “Early Retirement Package” that fit well with the idea that there other things I wanted to do, I made the difficult decision to leave the friendly (most of the time) confines of HP, resisting the “retirement” part of the deal.

Those “things” have included teaching and consulting, but more relevant here, I also started writing my “Observations”, addressing topics in the Printing and Imaging industry - and I haved loved covering many of the developments since then.

My nascent activity as a blogger/analyst expanded to work with three respected publishing/research companies, and I am grateful for their support, starting with the Observer in late 2005 and my first column. It has turned into a great second career, and even with a sabbatical in 2015, I have continued to crank out something every month, with generally great enthusiasm.

As far as “retirement”, I have wondered what it would be that would trigger the feeling that I really am retired, at least as far as the aforementioned “blogger/analyst” role. Friends and authors told me that “I would know when it was time”, and that has finally happened. The “writing was on the wall” earlier this month with the announced acquisition by HP of the Samsung printing business.

Prior to the official announcement, I was unaware of rumors the week prior (which in retrospect told me a lot), but I did note the acquisition news in a blog post on September 12th, though it was of a historical nature. (See “HP buys Samsung's Printer/Copier Unit - the more things change...). And while reading that day’s HP release, watching HP CEO Dion Weisler’s comments on CNBC, and talking to a few industry friends, I realized the time had come - I really had no excitement or enthusiasm for the deal or the strategy behind it.

That, my readers, was the “writing on the wall” - I realized I am no longer interested in what goes on in the industry (that has been so good to me), at least not interested enough to crank out a monthly column. I will continue to post “Observations” from time to time, and they might even include things about printing and imaging, but my “streak” on monthly posts has ended - not bad, if I say so myself, at 130!

Monday, September 12, 2016

HP buys Samsung's Printer/Copier Unit - the more things change...

Breaking news this morning across the business world is HP's somewhat surprising $1 Billion acquisition of Samsung's printer business. The move is touted by HP as a path into the copier business, taking advantage of an A3 product line currently designed, manufactured and marketed by Samsung.

It is a time of long-term decline in the printing business and it is predictable that consolidation like this will continue to take place. This move brings to mind the HP/Samsung joint venture that ended in 1998. On my first visit to Seoul in 1985, our destination was "SHP" - as the logo on a large downtown office building read. I always will remember my education on the Korean economy of the times and the importance that HP work with a local business giant like Samsung. (Another one I learned about at the time was Lucky Gold Star.)

From HP's Measure magazine, 1995