Friday, August 17, 2007

A Greener Google -- virtual ink coverage?

An intriguing article in Business Week by Catherine Holahan came to my attention and reminded me of an old principle in the copier and printer industry, but this time in the virtual world of the World Web Web. In "Google Won't Go Dark to Go Green", Holahan describes the pressure and suggestions directed at Google, in the interest of seeing them convert their home page to darker colors and away from their trademark spare-and-white look. (A suggested look, example above, is known as Blackle and was created by Heap Media. Click on the image above for a closer look or click through to the web site.)

For a complete description of the proposed energy savings see Holahan's article but of course the idea parallels the reality of the printer industry, i.e. cost-per-page (CPP) metrics that depend on the amount of ink or toner required to print a page. It's the opposite case of a computer monitor using more power to light up a paler web page, with the darker and more dense the image on the page to be printed, the higher the cost (and, it follows, the bigger the environmental impact). Print coverage metrics have been around seemingly forever, and an example definition can be found in the research reports HP (NYSE HPQ) sponsored and I blogged about exactly a month ago in Research on economics of small business printing, as follows:
"Ink coverage refers to the amount of ink or toner a job requires. Documents comprised mostly of text...have low ink coverage; those with photos or color backgrounds require more ink and have higher coverage." (Infotrends, 2007)

Example rates used in the HP studies were 60% for a typical flyer/brochure; a page of simple text is often calculated at 5% or less.

Whether "virtual ink coverage" is real is beyond my scope but an interesting diversion in an event-filled week, to say the least!

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