Friday, September 28, 2007

Web-based Application Printing -- Google Presentations

I posted just Monday about my printing experiences using Google Docs, and promised more to come. The whole topic, especially concerning the Office Suite variety of applications. (See examples "Web Apps Hit the Mainstream", "Can Anybody Take Down Microsoft Office? Probably, Yeah", and "Pondering Google 2.0: How will it get to $100 billion in revenue?". And with Google's recent release of PowerPoint-competitor Presentations, it seemed like time to look at that program's print capabilities, and like the Google Docs example, I skewed my look clearly in favor of reigning king-of-presentations, Microsoft PowerPoint, by creating my presentation in that environment, which included printing. (I should say I was using the 2003 version of the software, on a Windows XP Media Edition PC, and when it came time to move to the browser, the latest version of Firefox. The printer used was my old reliable HP (NYSE HPQ) Color LaserJet 2550L.

I started with a five-slide presentation I'd be using for a class I was teaching last night. It included three different backgrounds, an imported graphic or two, but no fancy builds or animations. (See an image of the full-size printed pages, above.) And Google Presentations did a GREAT job uploading it, at least for the screen. When it came to printing, it seemed the only choice for printing, as seen in the opening screen-shot image, is the "Printable View" option (it's usurped the standard CTL-P shortcut, which is handy but also indicative that it's the only print option). My hopes were high as this yielded a nice-looking print preview on-screen but prints in a two-up mode, with some of the graphics blacked out and text spacing off, as can be seen below.

Google Presentations printing Clearly not acceptable, either in quality or range of options. The center of gravity for most presentations is their visual projection, and not hard copy, but the solution cannot be considered complete without accurate printing. My long-time background in the printer business tells me not to point fingers, as their are many components of the printing system that need to work in harmony, but I look forward to a future solution that prints perfectly, as we've come to expect from PowerPoint.

(NOTE: Please double click images to get a better view!)

DemoFall 2007 in the books

I didn't intend a pun with my subject line, but I guess it is, though not exactly correct. The DemoFall conference ran the first part of this week, and it was another winner. Though not yielding any direct printer industry hits like Demos of the recent past, like Blurb, Zink, and SharedBook, the conference unfailingly offers a big picture view of trends across high tech. (The pun comes from the fact two of those three are book-related.)

One interesting aspect of the DemoFall agenda this year that relates to our industry, however, in this "Year of Small Business" for the printer industry, were the large number of creative small-business related companies on the stage. See all the conference demos here.

For a good recap of this year's DemoFall, see Kara Swisher's report.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Note to Xerox -- you got HP's attention!

On Monday I posted about Xerox (NYSE: XRX) announcing a couple of new solid inkjet printers and all-in-ones, along with a new pricing scheme and corresponding marketing slogan, "color printing at black and white prices". Like Eastman Kodak Company's early-2007 launch in the photo-printer market, Xerox is banking on boosting color print demand in the office through much lower supplies prices, with increased printer prices to go along with the rest of the equation. And of course, the benchmark in this category is market-leader HP (NYSE: HPQ) and their color laser printer product line. Their marketing materials and web site compares the direct cost of printing as well as the green/economics traits of both companies' products.

Defying conventional marketing wisdom of not commenting on lesser competitors' PR and advertising, HP has been lashing out in the days following. Vince Ferraro's LaserJet blog, usually home to more positive and even esoteric subjects, takes on a number of the Xerox arguments (see "Xerox Solid Ink -- Reality vs The Hype"). And another blog post from yesterday, on the ComputerWorld blog (see "Phaser or LaserJet -- HP and Xerox duke it out"), takes Vince's claim-by-claim analysis even further, with a little less bias, one might argue. I recommend reading both.

Again, traditional marketing practices call for little or no response when a lesser competitor threatens a market leader. So it's interesting to note when HP responds so strongly. It's mindful of their response to the Silverbrook / Memjet announcement six months ago (see "HP, Memjet: Words Heating Up"). HP's color laser business has been a shining star for the company, and has been a featured performer in their quarterly earnings briefs the last few years (see "HP Printer Metrics"), so this week's reaction shows HP feels the need to defend its turf.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

HP's Smart Web Printing reviewed in WSJ

I'm in the "drinking from a fire hose" mode typical of a Demo Conference. I've been in San Diego since Monday at the DemoFall 2007 conference, but life goes on. Katherine Boehret has a nice review of HP's Smart Web Printing tool, in The Wall Street Journal and online at AllThingsD. I highly recommend her very thorough and overall positive review, and it's great to see the mainstream tech press picking up on HP's (NYSE HPQ) web printing initiatives that I've been writing about for some time now. See "HP pulling it together on Web Printing".

Monday, September 24, 2007

Browser App Printing

Inspiration for this post comes from a reader who recently used Google Documents to put together a job resume. When it came time to print, he had trouble. And his experience made me want to know more about this potential Achilles Heel for at least some browser-based applications.

(Printing from web-based office applications is a potentially huge topic, and so far it seems to have been ignored, so I'm starting off small with this first post, and look forward to building on the story.)

Job resumes comprise a category of documents where formatting is critical and that are often still printed, even in 2007. (Though of course many resumes will end up digitally scanned after their receipt by potential employers.) Microsoft Word has been "king" of resume creation for a generation, but what about the up-and-coming browser-based office applications? The activity in this area, led by Google and their growing suite of apps, is one of the hottest topics in the PC/IT world these days, with IBM firing the latest salvo just last week (see "I Hear a Symphony").

Microsoft is understandably on the defensive, firing back with rationale for users NOT to switch (see "10 Reasons Against Google Apps"). But interestingly, one of those reasons is NOT inadequate printing function.

Looking to recreate or refute the problems my reader found, I put together a sample resume based on the most popular resume template available from a Microsoft Office web site (over 1.5 million downloads). I printed it from Word 2003 and from Google Docs using the latest version of Firefox. Both jobs came from my Vista-based laptop and were printed on my HP (NYSE HPQ) LaserJet 1320. The results are presented in the image at the top of this post, with MS Word on the left, and Google Apps (uploaded from a Word file) on the right. Obviously, the Word version is exactly what I intended and the Google Apps version is a mess, most notably spanning a page-and-a-half rather than the intended one full page.

One problem with my test here, of course, is a built-in Microsoft bias, having downloaded the file from the company's web site, and then modifying it via their application. But they are the sitting king-of-the-hill and newcomers will be judged against the reigning leader.

I made no effort to improve the Google Apps print results this pass, and in the interest of full disclosure, other than the Google App's help advice to turn off the headers and footers that display url and page info, there seems to be nothing else I could have done. (See graphic below.) So if you're coming from a MS Word world, be prepared.

The reality is, this shouldn't be surprising. Most users will probably assume they can use Google Apps for the info gathering stage, and then export to Word for final formatting and printing.

But the broader topic of printing from web-based apps calls for an ongoing look, including pulling in other Word competitors from Zoho and IBM Symphony, as well as spreadsheet and presentation rivals. Stay tuned!

(NOTE: Please double click images to get a better view!)

New President, COO at Kodak

Eastman Kodak Company announces this morning that Phil Faraci has been named the company's President and Chief Operating Officer (COO). This follows an organization change in March (see "Busy Times ... ") that gave shared responsibilities to Faraci and fellow exec (and HP alum) Jim Langley for the then-newly-created "Chief Operating Office".

The release quotes CEO Antonio Perez on Langley's contributions and end-of-2007 departure:

'Kodak's promising future reflects in large part the great business that Jim built for us,' Perez said. 'I cannot thank him enough for coming out of retirement to help establish Kodak as a leading participant in the graphic communications industry. Jim has completed the work he came to do, and the result is that the position of GCG president is no longer necessary in this new structure. I wish Jim all the best upon his return to his private life, and I thank him for all of his many contributions.'

Probably well deserved kudos, but interesting on the "return to private life". Has Perez been listening to too many Rove/Gonzalez-type speeches?

Cheaper supplies, pricier printers from Xerox

Xerox is making news this morning with their announcement of the Phaser 8860 color printer and Phaser 8860MFP color multifunction printer. Their products' list prices are more expensive than the competition, by a lot. But their pitch -- "color printing for black and white prices" -- couldn't be more clear or direct. Much cheaper supplies and pricier printers -- where have we heard that before? See the Business Week piece by Nanette Byrnes for a good recap including the analysts' point of view.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I Hear a Symphony

IBM added to the stampede of vendors seeking to do a better Office Suite than the king of the hill, Microsoft, with their announcement earlier this week of the free Lotus Symphony. (See CNET's excellent round-up "Opening Doors Beyond Micrososft Office").

As regular readers of this blog may recall, I've been an early user of Google Docs (all the way back to the Writely days) and also Zoho. And in fact, look for my examination of printing from browser-based apps early next week, right here.

But in the mean time, I want to end the week with a little bit of history on the "Symphony" name, and a parallel in the printing world.

Long-time industry members will recall Lotus Symphony as an "integrated software" competitor in the 1980's, when spreadsheet programs like VisiCalc and Lotus 1-2-3 were being replaced by more "suite-like" offerings. Symphony, unlike its predecessor and monster hit 1-2-3, never made it, IBM ended up acquiring Lotus, but the name, with its pleasing sound and harmonic connotation, remained an unused asset until IBM decided to recycle it this year. (Some of this is from my own memory but is backed up and enhanced by a great history in Wikipedia under Lotus Symphony.)

The printer industry actually has a parallel. Apollo Computer (also see Wikipedia's entry) was an upstart technical workstation vendor in the 1980's, who along with Sun began to dominate the category until lagging incumbent HP (NYSE HPQ) acquired them in 1988. As things go, product lines were merged, and the name was retired. But in 1999, when HP's printer division was looking for a new brand name for a ultra-low-end inkjet printer product line, the Apollo name was resurrected. Apollo Printers don't yet warrant their own Wikipedia entry, though The Hard Copy Observer archives (not online) cover them well. They had a good run, lasting about three years, until HP simplified things and put its printing products all back under the "HP" name.

The recycling of names, when there is full and clear ownership, can make a lot of sense for companies. Of course with good names at a premium, made-up names are another popular route to go, but even they're not in infinite supply.

And while we're going nostalgic, that subject line? Supremes, 1965.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The True Cost of Printer Ink

In the latest PC Magazine, dated October 2, 2007, there's a great feature by David Stone with the same name as that in my subject line, "The True Cost of Printer Ink". Stone reports on PC Mag's findings concerning the new ISO and IEC standards for supplies yields based on document printing. (Photo printing standards are still in the works.)

While the inkjet supplies market, both OEM and third-party, often battle it out in the marketplace over price at the point-of-purchase, the real measure of cost of course is the cost of the cartridges divided by the number of pages printed. And with so much variability in pages, the results are highly variable. Vendors' claims have been suspect in the past, but PC's findings on yields (pages per cartridge) are heartening from a manufacturer credibility standpoint. The models checked -- Canon Pixma MP600 Photo All-In-One, the HP Officejet J5780 All-in-One, the HP (NYSE HPQ) Officejet Pro K5400dtn Color Printer, the Kodak EasyShare 5300 All-In-One, and the Lexmark (NYSE LXK) X3550 -- were included because their claimed yields were based on the ISO/IEC standard. And in all cases the magazine's results were within the margin of error of the claims. Congratulations industry for taking the high road!

And kudos to David Stone and PC Magazine for providing this insight. See the piece for the details and much more, including that depending on usage levels, the price of the printer DOES matter!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Digital Photo Frames -- Printer friend or foe?

If you don't have one, or haven't "gifted" one, then at least you've surely seen them in the ads. LCD-based digital photo display frames have been around for a number of years now, but have zoomed in popularity the last year or two, with prices sometimes below $100 or even lower.

Parks Associates is offering a free download of a "white paper" entitled "Digital Photo Frames: Picture a Good Year" and it offers a high-level view of this high-growth category. Parks Associates is based in Dallas, TX and their expertise, per their boilerplate, "includes home networks, digital entertainment, consumer electronics, broadband and Internet services, and home systems." And NOT printing...which I find refreshing, as a denizen of the printer industry for the last 20+ years. I've been to several Parks conferences (see "Photo Printing -- Web 2.0 Manna?") and I strongly believe a view from OUTSIDE our industry once and awhile at least can be a very healthy thing.

The white paper, authored by Parks' Harry Wang, confirms the digital photo frame business is hot, and gives a brief history, thumbnail sketches of the key players, and some interesting insight into the buying and usage of the frames. Seems they're purchased as gifts (or received) twice as often as for personal usage, at least in the US, and that usage satisfaction rates cluster around the middle with few in the tails of extreme satisfaction or dissatisfaction. (I think the latter point speaks to a still-immature category where the usage kinks are still being worked out.) The Parks paper goes into the benefits of photo frames, but stops short of making a connection to printing.

My view is that the printer industry, specifically those interested in the home printing of photos, should be viewing the digital photo frame with a cautionary eye. The parallel case I'm looking at is that of the overhead projector and the lucrative niche that afforded our business for some time (overhead transparency supplies particularly, but also sales of printers dedicated or predominately used for cranking out slides). Over just a few years in the late 90's, LCD digital projectors pretty much wiped out that business, as "slide decks" became virtual. So the question follows -- will a parallel to the office market take place in the home and does the development of the home digital printer frame reduce the need for prints?

HP (NYSE: HPQ) seems to indicate an interest in the frame business, or at least the functionality offered by frames, with the introduction of the HP Photosmart A826 Home Photo Center a couple of weeks ago. See Katherine Boehret's review, on All Things Digital, entitled "Printer, Digital Frame in One".

An area to watch, and in the mean time, read the white paper!

Friday, September 14, 2007

HP Acquires MacDermid ColorSpan

While it's really beyond the scope (breadth?) of this blog, HP (NYSE HPQ) announced a printer company acquisition this week that should at least be noted. The company is MacDermid ColorSpan Inc, and the products in question are wide-format, sign-printing machines in the $50K and up price range, and the customers are print and sign shops. HP's press release describes this addition to HP's Graphics Arts group.

Meet me at the Wal-Mart!

Earlier this week, Eastman Kodak Company announced a big expansion in distribution for their EasyShare 5100 All-in-One printer products at 2,600 Wal-Mart stores in the US.

Going back to early 2007
, the 5100 (and its siblings) is the purported industry-changing "cheap ink" product that started in the Spring with distribution only in BestBuy stores and online, and then expanded to include Office Depot stores during the summer. (See the press release for international distribution details.)

They're even offering a special introductory deal. Wal-Mart shoppers will receive "three additional high-yield, 5-ink color cartridges (a $45 value)" with the purchase of a $129.99 EasyShare 5100. I'll have to get to my local Wal-Mart this weekend, and I'll take a look for Dell products while I'm there!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Money Talks -- graphic evidence

This is the graphic (above) with caption (below) that accompanies my September 2007 "Observations" in the print edition of The Hard Copy Observer. (Click directly on the image to see detail.)

As this August 28th screen shot of the HP news screen on Google Finance shows, money still talks. HP’s (NYSE HPQ) $300 million advertising campaign musters the kind of coverage that eludes the campaign’s subjects, Print 2.0 and new printing and imaging products, at least in the business press.

Observations: HP's $300 Million Advertising Campaign and The Four P's of Marketing

HP's $300 Million Advertising Campaign
and The Four P's of Marketing

In my August column, I provided a history of printing from the Web and promised in this month's part two to "take a more detailed look at the new HP (NYSE HPQ) Web-printing solutions and work at seeking out my favorite quarry—the great marketing principles of winning value propositions aimed at satisfying customers." I have been true to that goal in the following column, although not without a little head scratching along the way.

As a part-time faculty member teaching graduate-level marketing courses for the last year, I have enjoyed re-visiting many of the old concepts that I learned years ago in college and graduate school business courses. Of course much is relatively new in today’s curricula, but some of the best concepts have not changed a whole lot.
The old faithful marketing mix, i.e. the Four P's, is one of those concepts. The Wikipedia entry for "Marketing Mix" discusses the Four P's — Place, Product, Price and Promotion—and pegs the origin of the concept back to 1948, which is actually long before I started college, believe it or not. Some experts have tried to add a fifth P, or change the P's to C's, and there are no doubt many other variations and aberrations of which I'm not aware. But I prefer the original incarnation, and recalling it helped me to understand the marketing situation currently facing the management team of HP’s Imaging and Printing Group (IPG).

First, let me submit that many of us started out as primarily "product" people and that mindset continues today. Whether from a technical background, or, like me, from product marketing, which some would say is the high tech world's only truly legitimate marketing function, the world of hard copy pretty much revolves around product. We should know better, and we tell ourselves to take a broader view of what product means—not just hardware but software, accessories, and even that boxy item at the other end of the cable (i.e. computer). Or we go further and talk about the solution, an almost mythical concept that is difficult to describe, although no one would admit as such.

However, the focus usually comes back to product, if not hardware, then at least (visible) software. So when faced with HP's August 28th announcement of Print 2.0, which followed an earlier announcement in May (see The Hard Copy of Observer, 7/07), we in the industry tend to sift through to see what is really meaningful…and preferably in the form of new boxes. (The October issue of The Hard Copy Observer will include complete coverage of HP's announcements.)

I am subject to that tendency and have gravitated to the Web-printing part of the Print 2.0 equation, where there are improvements and innovations that I can see. What I have seen are some very interesting and valuable contributions to an improved customer experience, which really started back a dozen years ago but have picked up substantial steam with HP's March 2007 acquisition of Tabblo.

Antonio Rodriguez, formerly CEO and founder of Tabblo and now director of research and development for Supplies in HP's IPG, tells of compelling evidence that motivated him to improve printing from the Web. HP studied home-printing users in the last year and discovered that approximately one half (48 percent) of all printed pages were initiated from a Web browser—and that is today. What of the future?

HP realized that in order to keep its users happy and buying more ink and toner, printing from the Web had to be streamlined, and that is what the HP "Print It!" button will do. Tabblo (and now HP) technology enables the "Print It!" button and allows Web-site owners to easily offer printing capabilities. So, as promised last month, there is a fairly simple value proposition offered to a very large customer base with unmet user needs. Marketing principle for the month—check!

This technology also takes care of the first P: the product or value proposition, which Rodriguez says is to "improve the Web-printing experience...creating new Web-based printing opportunities where none existed before." We are also in good shape on price, which is basically free, and place, as in on the Web or in the printer box at the clip of a million a week.

Perhaps most importantly, Web users need to be aware that this better and broader print experience is available to them. And that brings us to the last P: promotion. HP is putting up big dollars, as in $300 million, to get the word out. I opined in my August column, "The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same," that good ideas often can or need to come around more than once, but bad ideas can come back around, too. Here we are again with what I think is a good idea, and maybe the difference this time is that HP is taking all of the four P's into account. Even with Web 2.0 and the requisite blogs, wikis, and other free outlets, good old paid advertising and other types of promotions can do wonders. We will no doubt revisit HP's Print 2.0 down the road to see what has transpired.

See graphic evidence above.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Violence against Printers

Samsung has a new online advertising campaign that includes an interactive game allowing users to "virtually" destroy a printer. I can't speak to the game's higher levels, as I was stuck on level one during my testing, but the initial round features the user wielding a baseball bat (controlled via the mouse) while in a dark alley complete with visiting rodents, and up against what looks like a genericized (no branding visible) HP (NYSE HPQ) LaserJet 4MP.

I had one of these printers for many years and LOVED it so not sure where the motivation for this choice comes from, but we've seen enough YouTube videos and the like featuring printer abuse, so the evolution (de-volution?) to this game is not surprising. And after all, it's often the printer at the end of the user interface chain, and a problem with the hard copy is usually blame on the last component to touch it (or not deliver it at all, at least as expected.)

Samsung is using the online ad (entered through the banner on the left) to tout their full line-up of laser printers, "new printers you won't want to destroy". I've covered Samsung's creative advertising in the past (e.g. "Samsung's Internet Printer") but I found it interesting they're attacking HP, beyond the fact that they're #2 and HP's #1 in printer sales worldwide. For those familiar with the history of Internet advertising, HP pioneered with one of, if not the, first online games embedded into an Internet ad, a pong game touting HP LaserJets in about 1996, if my memory serves me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Facebook Printing

So, no, this headline is not (solely) a cheap trick to get more hits for this blog, just as my post entitled Iphone Printing was more than just a traffic-builder. In that entry, I marveled at my new iPhone and predicted it would not be long for some optimist in the printer industry to soon come to the fore proclaiming Apple's latest entry to be a boon to printing. And it happened, a month later. (See "Printing from the Cloud".)

But on to Facebook and Printing. The Financial Times online carries an interview today with Mark Zuckerberg, founder of the immensely popular social networking site Facebook. And in the interview, conducted by Kevin Allison and Richard Waters of the FT's San Francisco bureau, Zuckerberg uses printing, specifically photo printing, to make a point about his site's popularity versus those of specialty photo sites.

There are these applications like Flickr and different photo sites that are really specifically engineered towards being great photo sites. They let you store high resolution photos. They let you print your photos so you can use them offline. They have good management tools for the albums and we actually don’t have any of that stuff.

Our photos that are stored are in a simple format. The printing is really not that great, right? And the management of photos is pretty lightweight. Yet, our photos application has more than twice as much usage as every other photos application on the web combined.

And the reason for that is because despite all the other features that other photo applications have, they don’t have the innate ability to know who your friends are and be able to say, 'Okay, you uploaded some photos. You want to share those with these people.' Or some of your friends uploaded some photos - here are all the photos that your friends have uploaded.

While this quote in the end really doesn't have so much to do with printing, it has a GREAT message about product design and marketing. We in the printing industry (or whatever industry) can get so involved with building the "better mousetrap" that we can lose out when things shift. Paying attention to user needs and shifting market dynamics might be a lot more important than cranking up the number of print-related features in our next new product or service!

ZDNet Tech Update -- Not one but TWO printer references!

Last week I posted about the Lexmark Teardown that was featured on the TechRepublic website, and now today the ZDNet Tech Update appears with TWO print-related items. Both pieces are under the heading of "Technology News" are they're hardly mainstream office printing fare. See HP's Inkjet Tech Seeks to Replace Hypodermic Needles and IBM Prints with Molecules for a couple of out-there print applications. Very stimulating ideas, for for this blog anyway I think I'll stick (no pun intended) to the mainstream markets awhile longer.

Monday, September 10, 2007

SharedBook announces Sports Alliances

The team at SharedBook continues to be busy, with two new sports-company alliances with JumpTV and to talk about today, to go along with their existing relationship with Sportography. Worth a look. I'm particularly intrigued by the potential of matching the capabilities of Blog2Print with youth/participation sports where the interest in recording personal achievements has exploded with the popularity of digital photography.

Speaking of SharedBook, a faithful reader or two may have recognized the photo above, as it appeared on the DataBazaar blog. My friends there highlighted the experiences of yours truly and the creation of my first Blog2Print in "How Can I Turn My Blog Into A Professionally-Published Book?". Next on the agenda for me is a blog that contains only my print-column Observations. This sub-set of my main blog will then be available for printing via Blog2Print as well.

Key Printer Industry Issues

Ed Crowley over at Printer Industry News is soliciting feedback from industry members on current issues facing the industry. I encourage participation from any and all interested readers.

Ed's a friend and colleague who I've tapped into for industry intelligence in the past, including my April 2007 Observations, "Corporate Printing, Served and Managed". He's a consultant especially tuned in to the Wall Street view of our business, and his thoughts are expressed occasionally in one of my favorite blogs, Seeking Alpha. (Read Ed's "Are Printer Companies Chasing the Wrong Target?" for background.)

Speaking of Seeking Alpha, their hardware blog has featured a number of provocative posts recently. Eric Savitz has two, including "Bernstein Grants Lexmark Its Sole 'Buy' Rating" which covers beleagured LXK's first analyst recommendation in a long time, and "Street Yawns At HP's New Products", covering HP's (NYSE HPQ) recent NON-Printer (ie PC, server, and cell phone) announcements last week (not to be confused with the pre-Labor Day Print 2.0 announcement). On the same topic, Seeking Alpha's Carl Howe has a post titled "HP's Marketing Mistake", especially for his very creative use of a Newsmap Graphic to make his point. (I use the much cruder "Google News Index" from time to time.)

Again, the latter two posts are not printer-related, but provide an interesting perspective on HP's marketing actions, especially as viewed by the Wall Street crowd.

Friday, September 07, 2007 makes Inc.'s Top List

News today from one of the companies I've covered this year in my Observations print column as well as here in the blog. In May's Observations, "The Year of Small Business", I discussed (PFL) and how the Livingston, MT-based firm has carved out a growing niche by meeting the out-sourced printing needs of small and medium businesses throughout the US, at a time when lots of printing needs are being met in-house as well, via a plethora of low cost desktop color laser printers from numerous industry players. From their release:

Livingston, MT – September 7, 2007 – Inc. Magazine recently announced that (PFL), America’s Print Shop at, is part of their prestigious, Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest growing businesses. After participating in an interview process and providing additional financial data to Inc., PFL is now recognized as one of the most dynamic private companies in the United States.

To qualify for the Inc. 5000 list, companies had to be U.S.-based, privately held, independent (not subsidiaries or divisions of other companies as of December 31, 2006), and have had at least $200,000 in revenue in 2003 and $2 million in 2006.

PFL has been on the Inc. 500 list for three years by providing cost-effective, four-color printing to help business owners succeed. "Since 1996, we have worked diligently to create a fun work environment for our employees while providing customers with excellent products and a remarkable experience they will want to tell their friends about," says Andrew Field, PFL President and CEO. "The Inc. 5000 recognition enforces our belief that you can enjoy what you do while exceeding customer expectations and enjoying fast business growth."

Read the Inc company profile on PFL, and see if you find some interesting tidbits like I did. Here's my favorite:
Why it's growing: Because it was an early e-commerce print shop, it comes up first or second on a Google keyword search for "printing."

My regular blog readers may recognize a theme here, as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of my topics of interest, and I'm prone to doing my own little benchmarks. So here goes: As the screen shot shows, my entry of "Printing" (no quotes) into Google this morning yields a #1 ranking (natural search -- see red underline) for, ahead of no less than Wikipedia and VistaPrint. In the search world that's gold! (Click on the image for better detail on the Google search screen.)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Congrats to Kodak's '1000 Words' Blog

While we're on the subject of corporate blogs and communications, it's worth noting that Eastman Kodak Company's 1000 Words blog is one year old today. Tom Hoehn has posted a great retrospective on the blog's first year.

And of all the flattering comments coming their way, for my money the ultimate flattery is imitation, which comes from within the EK R&D organization and the "A Thousand Nerds" blog.

Tom, showing no animosity at the techy crowd, sends along these recommended links which I also endorse as interesting reading.

Susan Tousi - R&D for our new inkjet line

Cathie Burke - Printhead Details

Also our CEO, Antonio Perez:

Back to the "1000 Words" tribute, I am inspired to think I should be doing something similar as I reach my 1.5 year mark later this month. BTW I passed 300 posts at the end of August.

Follow Up on HP's Print 2.0

With the Labor Day weekend and all, it seems like more than just a week and a few days since HP (NYSE HPQ) added to their "Print 2.0" story, but a quick look at Google News (56 hits up from 36) shows a few interesting follow-up articles worth noting here.'s John Hazard has a piece entitled "HP's 2.0-Pronged Attack on Print" and Stacey Cowley of CMP Network provides a channel perspective in "Partners Like HP Print 2.0 Vision, But Clamor For Specifics". Two HP blogs also provide insights, Patrick Scaglia's IPG Print 2.0 blog, and the Onda, an unofficial HP blog by Antonio Rodgriquez, both follow up on a more personal level. Patrick hasn't taken my advice yet about dropping the IPG from his blog's name, but he does a nice job of graphically presenting some of the Web and blog printing enhancements I've blogged about with some frequency. (e.g. "HP Pulling it Together on Web Printing.")

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Lexmark Tear Down

After a long Labor Day weekend involving cross-country air travel and some varied and mostly pleasant experiences, it was intriguing to come back to an email inbox that contained a fairly typical TechRepublic update with this most unusual (for them) subject line and link: "Cracking open a Lexmark printer". The TechRepublic division of Cnet excels in techy reviews and analyses across a broad cross-section of IT-related subjects, but printers (and all-in-ones, which is the category where the Lexmark 2500 offically belongs) don't often make it. It's a great photo spread of the individual sub-assemblies found in a modern inkjet AIO, very well done TechRepublic! So take a look if you dare (or care) -- I'm most impressed it's in there at all! (Credit for photo goes to Eric Eckel at TechRepublic.)