Friday, July 06, 2007

HP pulling it together on Web printing

HP (NYSE HPQ) didn't get all that much press and analyst attention from their early June "Print 2.0" announcement but maybe that's understandable. The summer has started, they were competing with some big stories elsewhere in tech-land including the D5 conference and the iPhone, and also, let's face it, web printing can be a bit of a difficult subject to convey, and I speak from years of direct experience!

But, I see hope, definitely! The Tabblo acquisition which I originally covered in the Spring has yielded the Tabblo Printer Toolkit (TPT) which I've now had a chance to play with, and I like it. One of the first things to strike me (see red-bordered screen shot) is simply the order that HP presents browser plug-in instructions -- first Firefox, THEN Microsoft IE, then Safari. Yes, HP, there's a whole world out there beyond Microsoft! And OK, it may simply be alphabetical order but it still represents significant openness on HP's part, at least in my book. (BTW my own personal market share tally -- based on visits to this blog -- is lately about 65/30/5 for MSIE, Firefox, and all others including Safari.) And something else small but still important? Included in the example web sites offered for trying TPT where "harvesting recipes" have been written, in addition to CNET (see top screen shot) and other more serious sites, is The Onion, a favorite humor web site that I've been lucky to know about the last few years because I have kids in college. (Yes, there is an ROI!) Message to HP -- it's ok to have a sense of humor!

The Tabblo Print Toolkit is limited, as can be expected at this stage, and also seems to reveal HP's ongoing balancing act between marketing objectives of truly satisfying customers and business objectives of selling more and more profitable printer supplies. The example in the screen shot shows the two options for printing an iPhone review (can't we escape?) by Walter Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal and their great techy web site, All Things Digital. We all love Walt but do we really need the "large" and "extra large" full color photo options of his head shot? Seems to me that a nice clean monochrome text version of the review would suffice for just about everyone.

More soon as I continue to my hands-on journey with the TPT and also as a beta site for their upcoming Blogger print button (for now check out Techcrunch for a good demo of the idea). And then there's HP Smart Web Printing, which is a plug-in that goes back to an MSIE-only world but has a very interesting pedigree that I'm anxious to explore. Stay cool during this summer's heat wave (at least for my US readers) and tune back in soon!

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