Thursday, November 29, 2007

HP's Green Office

Tech news yesterday included the announcement by HP (NYSE HPQ) of a huge "green" project (see "Hewlett Packard to install large solar power array"), to be installed at the company's San Diego site, which has always been and remains one of the major Imaging and Printing sites around the company. The "green" emphasis also was also very prominent at HP's recent ImagePrint 2007 conference I attended in Phoenix (see "Live Blogging HP's ImagePrint 2007", where central to the large product/solution showcase at the event was the "Green Office" exhibit. HP, led by their "green printing guru" Dave Lobato. HP's emphasis on printer-specific green features like reduced power consumption and recycling of supplies was complemented by the display itself, which used standard office fixtures like chairs, counters, cabinets, even the flooring and more, all made from recycled materials. It was a cleverly executed and popular stop at the showcase (see photo).

And in another green-related communications initiative (and also playing at the ImagePrint event), there's a video on YouTube, inspired by TV's "The Office", that if nothing else highlights the many ways to be green. While Xerox (NYSE XRX) has been lobbing shots at HP on its relative advantage in the lack of landfill-destined waste associated with its solid ink supplies versus HP's alternatives, the video follows other HP missives in firing back on the power-consumption issues that go with along with the solid ink technology.

All I want for Xmas is...a wireless inkjet printer?

I've been working with a Lexmark (NYSE LXK) Wireless X6570 inkjet all-in-one, and included my recent experiences with the product's wireless printing capabilities in my November Observations (see "Wi-Fi Printing -- Look Ma, No Cables"). So I was particular interested to see the story in this morning's news about a marketing research study, sponsored by Lexmark, and conducted by MarketTools last month among an online panel of 1,000 computer users.

As I've blogged about a number of times, commissioned research is great for learning things, often mostly about the sponsor's marketing goals! And keep in mind the results will be released pending their usefulness in furthering those goals. Nonetheless, the results as well as trying to ascertain the "story behind the story" can both be very interesting! Here are some of the results from this one:

When asked to list the top three technology products that they do not currently own, but would like to own, the largest number of respondents, 618, named wireless printers to their top three list. A flat-screen TV was selected by 565 respondents, and camcorders were selected to the top three list by 451 respondents.

In terms of absolute placement within the top three, flat-screen TVs were mostly frequently selected first (52 percent), wireless printers were most frequently selected second (41 percent), and camcorders were most frequently selected third (30 percent).

Only 6 percent of respondents said they already own a wireless printer.

More than eight out of 10 respondents (84 percent) said they would consider a wireless all-in-one (AIO) printer a great gift, and five in 10 (52 percent) said they would consider giving a wireless AIO as a gift.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Kindle Printing

Regarding the Amazon (NASDAQ AMZN) Kindle e-book reader announced on November 19th, I'm working on a column for my December Observations that will include historical perspective, and potential impact on the printer industry. So in researching that piece, I've come across a couple of relevant items worth highlighting here, ahead of my December column which will appear around the middle of next month.

Andrew Sullivan, in "Reviewing the Kindle" at The Daily Dish at forwards an idea, as a fan of small, fast, compact printers:

What I'd buy is a small printing device that can download any book and print it out in a classic simple paperback style: a consumer-friendly print-on-demand.

Rob Enderle, in "The Rise of ePaper: Could Kindle Represent the End of Printing?" on his blog at, beyond some good commentary on the Kindle itself, offers the idea that this could be the beginning of the end for printing. He asserts interesting arguments about our (printer) industry that speak to its mature status, seeing low (single digit) sales growth but high profits at least for the dominant player, HP (NYSE: HPQ).
In short, this has the feel of a business that has peaked and is in the process of being replaced by something else.

More on Lexmark's Wireless X6570 All-in-One

I wrote my November 2007 column, from a mostly user's perspective (see "Observations: Wi-Fi Printing -- Look Ma, No Cables"), exploring the emerging "standard" wireless interface on many of today's new printers. I used a Lexmark (NYSE LXK) Wireless X6570 All-in-One as my subject device, and found its printing capabilities to be more than satisfactory.

Since finishing the column, I've continued to use the Lexmark AIO, and recently found a post "Berlind's Testbed" blog from ZDNet's David Berlind on his experiences with the same all-in-one (see "HP, eat your heart out. At $150, Lexmark’s WiFi All-in-1 printer/copier/scanner/fax got my cash".) David's post contains an interesting account of his purchase of the Lexmark product, including receiving surprisingly knowledgeable help from his local Staples store. And like me, he found the Wi-Fi's biggest benefit to be location flexibility. (The basement-based Linux print server he replaced also rang true!)

Although I wasn't out to perform a full-scale review on the X6570, I still avoided reading other reviews before my own hands-on experiences with the products, in order to maintain my objectivity. After the fact though, it's good to see someone else's similar experiences. This includes my post-column work with some of the product's other functions, including successfully copying and scanning using the all-in-one's OCR capabilities. I recommend the Berlind post from earlier this month, including the up-to-now 24 comments, which (not surprisingly) run the gamut of pros and cons on everything from Wi-Fi itself to ink usage and color print quality.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

And have a great Black Friday!

To my US readers, have a great holiday and don't forget to support our economy and get out there tomorrow and SHOP! I don't follow all the great tech bargains here (see my favorite, the appropriately named for that), but among the deals worth noting including the Samsung CLP-300 color laser printer for a heretofore unbelievable $99.99 at several of the big box office stores!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Live from New York...

Well, at least that's probably where most of the analysts were, on the HP (NYSE HPQ) earnings call yesterday afternoon, following the market close. HP discussed its generally great revenues and earnings, including surpassing IBM in the long-discussed but seemingly insurmountable goal of becoming the #1 technology company on Earth (though no mention of this milestone was uttered by the company), and then reviewed some of the underlying details and took some Q&A. From the transcript, here are the printer-related remarks with my comments in [brackets]:

[from the narrative portion of the call]
Cathie Lesjak - Hewlett-Packard - CFO
Drilling in on the performance by business segment, during the fourth quarter, imaging and printing revenue grew 4% year-over-year to $7.6 billion, with supplies revenue growth of 6% and commercial hardware revenue growth of 5%. Consumer hardware revenue declined 5% year-over-year primarily due to the declines in appliance printers and cameras. Total printer hardware units were up 5% year-over-year.

This growth is slower than recent periods reflecting our decision to be more disciplined in our pricing of appliance printers and a tough prior year compare. Excluding appliance printers, total printer hardware units were up 9% year-over-year. In the consumer business, printer units were up 3% from the prior year lead by solid all in one unit growth. In the commercial business, printer hardware units were up 15% year-over-year lead by color laser printer shipments up 17% and printer-based MFP shipments up 26%.

In the fourth quarter, IPG delivered solid operating profit of $1.1 billion, or 14.5% of revenue including a charge of $32 million reflecting changes in the camera business model. This change in our camera strategy will have unfavorable impact of approximately one percentage point on IPG revenue in FY '08. Going forward, you will see us strategically taking out costs and realigning resources to build on our core business and accelerate our investments in growth initiatives.

[first question out of the chute]

Laura Conigliaro - Goldman Sachs - Analyst
Great. Well, starting with printers, printer unit growth has been coming down pretty noticeably over the past three quarters and supplies growth too. You've got another hard compare in the Jan quarter suggesting another mid-single digit unit growth rate in another weak supplies growth rate. How should we be viewing growth in these categories after that, and since you have been working at trying to separate supplies growth from unit growth, at what point might we start to actually see some benefit from that without the help of much incremental hardware unit growth?

Mark Hurd - Hewlett-Packard - Chairman, CEO & President
Hi, Laura, Mark, I'll start.
First, I think good question. I think we're pretty comfortable with mid to high single digit supplies growth and I think that favorably helps our business model. We're also comfortable with sort of mid-range, mid-single digit unit growth. To your point, we gained a heck of a lot of share coming off of a pretty rough 2003, 2004, and we're also being picky about the categories we're competing. Some of the areas as Cathie noted in the appliance-printer area , we're not seeing the supplies connect rate that you might want and so therefore, we're putting our money into areas that we think give us better connect, so we feel pretty comfortable with where we're headed.

Cathie also mentioned that if you actually took out the appliance growth rate on units and then looked at the core Inkjet and LaserJet, we had a pretty healthy unit growth rate in the quarter, certainly comparable to what we've seen in other quarters over the past two and a half years. So, I think you should think about those rates. If we get into those levels which we feel good about, we'll get favorable treatment in the business model, we feel good about that and we're continuing to be very tough in this IPG 2.0 transformation to be very focused on making sure that we look at every piece of the business and look at the value it brings so that we go to the real core places that we think we have opportunity to improve the business which is what you saw in the camera business model decision that we described.

We're also working very hard, Laura, and I don't mean to be too verbose with this but I want to make sure I give you a clear answer to this, we worked very hard to ensure that we have channel alignment on supplies inventory relative to the hardware opportunity during the quarter as well so it's really all of those dynamics tied up together and net-net you saw that if you took the camera charge out, IPG profit improved during the quarter, so we feel pretty good about our opportunities here but we still have a lot of work to do.

Monday, November 19, 2007

HP's Year End 2007 Printer Metrics

HP (NYSE HPQ) released its fiscal-year-end earnings after the markets closed today and logged some impressive numbers, including a $28 Billion revenue quarter, putting the company's annual total revenues at a once-unthinkable $104.3 BILLION!

Some of the Printing and Imaging numbers were released (with some additions included in the slides from the conference call, compared to the release linked to above), and conforming to this blog's tradition, they are presented below. IPG tallied record revenues as well, but with the some of the supporting numbers somewhat mixed. The narrative on the call blamed digital still camera and appliance printers for the decline in consumer hardware units.

Google Magazine

On the day Amazon (NASDAQ AMZN) is announcing its Kindle e-book reader and infrastructure, another Web company (well not exactly just another Web company!) is being associated with an "old media" category if in a much more speculative fashion. TechCrunch's Michael Arrington blogs about "Google Magazine", particularly a patent claimed by Google (NASDAQ GOOG) in 2006. Interesting thoughts on Google's interest on custom-content magazines including personalized ads.

Back to Kindle, TechCrunch is one of the 200 blogs that will be available for subscription, and is also live-blogging today's Amazon Kindle announcement.

Amazon's Kindle -- more than meets than eye!

Today Amazon (NASDAQ AMZN) announced its Kindle e-book reader, which may remind long-time printer industry participants of numerous noble but ultimeately unsuccessful attempts at electronic book-reading appliances over the year. A quick look at the coverage (and photos), for example at Between the Lines, will bring back memories of past efforts. BUT...before focusing too much on the hardware/product specficiations and characteristics, look at the whole "ecosystem" Amazon has put into place, with its Kindle store, subscriptions to newspapers, magazines, and blogs, links to Wikipedia as well as The New Oxford American Dictionary. In my opinion, this changes the "e-book" equation, and makes ultimate success seem much more likely, especially when viewed with the rather obvious analogy of iPod/iTunes.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Observations: Wi-Fi Printing -- Look Ma, No Cables

Wi-Fi Printing -- Look Ma, No Cables

Baby boomers like me might remember the original reference for my column title, which I believe is from a late 1950s/early 1960s Crest toothpaste television commercial featuring a kid riding a bike and showing off to his mother. But the phrase became adapted and re-used so many times that what may have seemed clever adaptations to the creators became tiresome to the listeners in a hurry. (Today’s variation, which is becoming equally tiresome, is (fill in the blank) 2.0).

But I am not just using that title phrase for nostalgia, although that is a factor. I am using it to point to a major question that I have had over the last year or so: Do the wireless interfaces that have become so prominent on new consumer printers really serve a legitimate and growing customer need, or is wireless merely the latest battleground in the "specsmanship" wars that also drive our industry, but in an ultimately less important way?

Let me go back a few years to the introduction of the HP (NYSE HPQ) LaserJet 5P and 5MP laser printers (see The Hard Copy Observer, 3/95). I was around for the conception of that product line and worked with the design team to come up with a feature set that would continue the HP LaserJet's legacy of innovation and customer satisfaction. The inclusion of a wireless interface, in this case infrared (IR), took advantage of HP’s investment in research and development in this area and served as a visionary lighthouse—a statement of direction towards a future where clumsy, space-limiting, unaesthetic, and otherwise troublesome wires would be rendered obsolete and replaced in a cable-free world with PCs and peripherals harmoniously getting along over the ether.

In reality, the adoption of infrared was hampered by a number of limitations: users had to acquire print drivers from a third-party developer, the maximum distance between the IR-equipped computer and the printer was limited to three feet, and the current version of Microsoft Windows did not support IR printing. As a result, very few end users at the time actually used wireless printing.

Fast forward to 2007. Broadband Wi-Fi networks abound, and millions of users around the world routinely gain Internet access by logging into Local Area Networks (LANs) based on 802.11 standards. These networks are in work environments and public places like airports and coffee shops and are today's technology of choice for millions and millions of home-based LANs. And the printer industry has taken notice.

I personally have had a Wi-Fi-equipped home office for four or five years using a variety of off-the-shelf technologies. In our home, like most, the primary motivation is sharing the Internet "pipe" that comes in to our home via a digital subscriber line (DSL) modem (but that could just as easily be a cable modem). Over time, my family and I have begun sharing other resources, like files and printers, but until recently, in a more traditional network-printing fashion.

Lexmark (NYSE LXK), while by no means having a lock on the Wi-Fi printer market, has been at the forefront in touting Wi-Fi compatibility for its printers. Despite recent financial woes (see "Lexmark Can't Match Apple Results"), Lexmark continues to be a strong industry player and, in fact, is known as an organization with long-standing expertise in pursuing printing's vertical markets, which is another way of saying that the firm identifies segment-specific user needs and designs products and solutions for those needs. So a look at Lexmark's approach to Wi-Fi printing seems appropriate. The company is so enamored with wireless printing that it has made the term part of its product names. For example, the product they made available to me for some light-duty testing is the Lexmark Wireless X6570 All-in-One. The firm’s positioning is realistic—they do not dispute that there is more than one way to print over a network—but enabling the printer to become a full-fledged citizen of the wireless LAN has some distinct advantages.

In the document "Understanding Your Wireless Printing Options" (available at, Lexmark points to "wireless printing anywhere within your wireless network — giving you more mobility and reducing cable clutter" and "the freedom to place your printer almost anywhere in your home—you decide based on what suits your usage preferences and d├ęcor, with no worries about shackling it to your wireless router or computer." This is distinct from how I deploy another printer on my home LAN: tethered to one Windows XP machine via USB but available to other network clients. Another drawback of the wired-to-one solution is the requirement that the "one" computer remain powered on in order for printing to proceed from other network PCs. (This constraint goes away with wired network printers, of course.)

My experience installing the X6570 on my home LAN was virtually flawless. After removing packing tape, installing ink cartridges and the like, the PC-based installation steps on my Windows XP-based desktop were routine and remarkably the same as installing any printer. The "wireless ready" light on the front of the all-in-one had already turned green, and it wasn’t long until the machine successfully printed the test page. My next step was to print from my Windows Vista-based laptop. That process worked fine too, after I realized there was no auto-detect and that I had to do a CD-based install, unlike my experience with my other networked printer and the Vista laptop.

All in all, I think Lexmark (and by inference the rest of the industry) is on the right track in supplying easy-to-use wireless printing. There are certainly other ways to share a printer, but the placement flexibility offered by wireless is nice, and even saving a USB slot is worth something. As more home LANs spring up, the utility of wireless seems positive enough to make its presence in consumer printers a future standard, and only "conspicuous by its absence." The test on my home LAN will really come with the holidays, as our house fills up with laptop-toting late-teens and early-twenties family members. We will see what they think about the wireless machine. But oops, that’s right, they are in the age group that does not print…

As a brief footnote, this concludes my column's second full year—yes, that is 24 official Observations columns, plus a few extraneous ones—and I want to express my sincere thanks ('tis the season, after all) to Charley LeCompte, Ann Priede, and the rest of the Lyra and The Hard Copy Observer crew who have made me feel like part of a great extended family. What started with an inspiration for a one-shot retrospective guest editorial has turned into a regular column and blog that has forced me to stay current and on top of a dynamic industry that I love. With any luck, I will stick around! Look for year three of my Observations column starting with the December 2007 issue.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wrapping ImagePrint 2007

Thanks to HP for letting me join them for their Phoenix gathering. As far as the blog, that's it for now, but I'll be following up here with a few related items in the coming weeks.

Also, see another update on the conference at a new HP LaserJet Blog post, from Vince Ferraro. And thanks for the link Vince!

Print 2.0 for the Enterprise

I've been live blogging from HP's (NYSE HPQ) ImagePrint 2007 the last couple of days, as readers of this blog will know. The event itself has been impressive both for its rather massive scale as a whole, as well as for the sum of its many impressive parts. (For the official HP blogger view of the event, see Mike Feldman's post at HP's Enterprise Printing Blog -- and thanks for the link, Mike!)

One topic that's been on the docket here and that I vowed to take a closer look at has been "Print 2.0 for the Enterprise". I've posted numerous times about both some of the Print 2.0 consumer applications and partnerships (e.g. see "Printing talk at the Web 2.0 Summit") and also some of the challenges HP faces in communicating this most ambitious shift in their Imaging and Printing strategy (e.g. see "Follow Up on HP's Print 2.0"). My interest and understanding of the end-user-oriented subject area comes naturally to me as both someone who helped develop the nascent Web printing strategy in its infancy at HP a dozen years ago, and as a user and proponent today. And on the communications angle, I've speculated that perhaps a share of the challenge in HP defining and then marching towards a "Print 2.0" vision might be from pulling in "too much under the tent", questioning at least privately whether an Enterprise story was helping or hurting the clarity of the message.

Anyway, after time at the conference with HP executives like Keith Moore, Chief Technology Officer for HP's Global Enterprise Business, I'm beginning to believe. Common strategic basics like "connecting bits and atoms" (with credit to Nicholas Negroponte) really do link the worlds of Enterprise and Consumer. Crucial to this is the acceptance (and understanding) of an altered role of paper and printing in a still-physically-oriented but radically changing world of information (see "The Changing Role of the Printed Page"). The HP story holds together and even begins to build. I said at the beginning of the paragraph I'm beginning to believe, and I think by its end, I believe even more...

In my opinion, embracing the moving target of how paper and printing is changing puts HP, and its printing industry competitors who join in, at a major advantage in crafting a business strategy for the future. I'd say those who point to GDP-level-growth in printer and paper markets (see "...Analysts Hold Firm on Print Demand") as evidence of unchanged behavioral patterns are "whistling past the graveyard".

HP's "Handheld sp400 All-in-One"

It's unlikely you'll be finding this one at the nearest Office Depot or CompUSA anytime soon, but the Handheld sp400 All-in-One from HP (NYSE HPQ) is on display in the showcase area of the company's ImagePrint 2007 conference concluding today in Phoenix.

This is an industrial product that was designed by having HP design/marketing teams work closely with HP customers in their shipping areas, learning their process cold, and then building a solution to solve the unmet customer needs, in this case included inkjet printing and scanning, integrated with wireless communication with the centralized data base. It's a joy to see this marketing process at work, whether with consumers, office staff, or in this case shipping department managers and workers. Here's the message to the potential customer:

[As a] package rolls down the line, your crew can scan it, send data wirelessly, and then print a label or message directly on the package with one simple, portable device. Sound revolutionary? It is. In fact, the HP Handheld sp400 All-in-One is the first and only scan-and-print solution to integrate a 2D barcode imager, inkjet printer and wireless communication in one device.

ImagePrint's showcase is organized by "Vertical Market", and besides Manufacturing and Distribution, where I found the sp400, also includes Retail, Pharma and Life Sciences, Education, Government, Financial Services and Insurance, Healthcare, and Retail Banking. These specialty areas surround exhibits of more general interest, including (of course) HP's Edgeline solutions and a "Green Office" exhibit that deserves its own future post.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Live Blogging HP's ImagePrint 2007

I've been invited to spend some time at HP's (NYSE HPQ) annual convening of key corporate and enterprise printing customers and partners, which is being held at the Phoenix Convention Center this week. It's a two-day event that includes an executive summit focused towards Chief Information Officers (CIOs), as well as a solution center including HP's latest and greatest. While the event features a few new printing solution announcements, its primary focus is the sharing with the 1,000 or so attendees at the "sold out" event the latest in HP's thinking and direction.

In sessions I've attended so far, with titles like "HP Printers in the Enterprise" and "HP Total Cost per Page", executives including HP's Tom Codd and Steve Watt explain how the company positions its printers in the enterprise, vis a vis the competition, on factors like cost (obviously) as well as ease-of-management and "Green" attributes.

I'll have more updates from the conference, but suffice it to say for now that the depth and breadth of HP in the printer business is something to behold. Throw in a thousand users and administrators who really care about printers and printing, and who wouldn't be happy???

(Full disclosure -- In a previous career, I worked in HP's printer business, leaving the company's employ in 2005.)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Most interesting 20 printers of the year

Noted printer reviewer M. David Stone has authored a most interesting slide show that can be found at the eWeek web site entitled "The 20 Most Interesting Printers of 2007 (So Far)". He highlights products from HP (NYSE HPQ) (eight models total, including five based on traditional inkjet technology, two on laser, and then the new Edgeline inkjet), Canon (four total mentions), Lexmark NYSE LXK) and Xerox (NYSE XRX) (two models each), and filling in with Dell, Epson, Eastman Kodak Company, and Memjet (all one model each). The latter one, Silverbrook Research's Memjet, is the exception in the group of 20, in that it represents a technology as opposed to a currently shipping product, but certainly has stimulated enough discussion in the business to deserve a place on the list.

This excellent recap has been out there for a few weeks but I'd missed it, until led into the site's printer area by the provocative headline, "Health Workers Addicted to Black and White", which covers the same Lexmark research I covered last week.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

HP: What's bad for digital cameras is good for Print 2.0

HP (NYSE HPQ) issued a post-market-close press release yesterday that I found both interesting and unusual. The news has been well reported, but a few of the more subtle details are worth noting.
  • The release headline itself, "HP to Seek New Business Model for HP-branded Cameras" -- when was the last time "business models" were the focus of a $100 Billion company's press release? Takes one back to a typical announcement from the last, VC-fueled Internet bubble and a much smaller, newer company.
  • Open disclosure of seeking out an outside OEM to market products under the HP Brand -- this always seemed like the type of relationship that was carefully and quietly managed. Insiders know it goes on all the time, but why publicize it? Do consumers need or want to know their "HP" camera really is from another company?
  • Publicly trading off one investment for another -- Good for Print 2.0, the new focus for HP that will benefit from its de-emphasizing digital cameras, as documented in the release, but again, not the norm for a public announcement.
  • "HP makes cameras?" -- Of course many of us know the company's long history in the area, but with their low visibility in at least some segments of the camera market, there must have been at least a few readers that had this or a similar reaction.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Small Business productivity and focus, and other happy marketing stories

The printing and imaging industry has taken the small business to heart this year (see "Observations: The Year of Small Business"), with efforts to boost their efficiency and productivity via in-house publishing (see "Observations: Low-End Color Lasers—Build Them and They Will Come?") while not ignoring sensible outsourcing decisions when quantities, price breaks and capabilities so dictate (see "Small Business Printing -- when to stay in-house, when to go out-sourced").

Of course, there are two ways to help on productivity and efficiency, including the direct way, like on the aforementioned marketing collateral efforts, and the indirect way, by removing non-core tasks from the small business person's workload, thus freeing up more time to focus on what they do best. This is the angle I see being played to by well-known commercial print provider, and their small-business-oriented turn-key custom holiday card service being announced tomorrow. The value proposition: get your all-important holiday greetings out to your valued customers and suppliers with the minimum amount of time and hassle, leaving more time to build your business, especially at this time of the year when time is money for so many of us.

In the same vein, I want to mention a personal experience I had with another source of services, in this case relieving me from potentially hours of non-core activities. Elance offers a service matching buyers and sellers of services, in my case a seemingly minor but still knotty web programming challenge that I just didn't have the expertise to take on, and also didn't have the time to develop that expertise. I described the job, put it out on Elance, and a few days later had a completed job done for a very reasonable price. I'm a very satisfied first-time customer.

And speaking of customer satisfaction stories, I need to add one more. My Apple iPhone's protective case, provided by Incase, has saved my phone and me from disaster at least a few times, but it had a problem beginning to develop. I called the company, got immediate help with some simple information-sharing instructions, and a new replacement case was on its way to me in no time, which I've since received and am very happy with. Thanks Incase, both for the painless exchange and the great example of how to treat your customers!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Truth in research -- Black and white printing the choice in healthcare

In a refreshing piece of marketing research released by Lexmark (NYSE LXK), health care professionals they studied "rely on basic black and white" printing, over color output. (See "Lexmark research shows printing is black and white for most health care professionals".) The health care professionals studied were in the US, UK, and France, and their mix of print jobs favors text documents (52 percent), forms and records (26 percent), short reports (26 percent), and invoices and purchase orders (21 percent). They place a premium on print speed and ease of use, but for these jobs, apparently black and white does just fine. Color usage was either "outsourced" or "incidental".

For the second time in a week, a printer vendor has surprised me with an action that breaks set, even while brimming with common sense! Last week it was Xerox teaming up with GreenPrint, the software that allows users to print LESS, and now Lexmark touting the importance of old-school monochrome laser printing in an important and growing sector of the global economy.

My expectations on commissioned research studies might have to be reset a bit. I've pointed out in the past that companies releasing the results of their own marketing research (see "Research on economics of small business printing") seem to always come up with results consistent with their marketing strategy. One would guess these days that generally involves rolling over customers' installed base of monochrome laser printers to new color models. Maybe at least Lexmark is seeing a healthy future for faster and easier-to-use monochrome printers!

Cookbooks from and SharedBook

SharedBook has announced a new alliance with popular cooking site, for printing hardbound (and softcover) cookbooks using their Reverse Publishing platform. I've covered SharedBook since their appearance at Demo 2006, and have had good success with my creating my own book, publishing a hard cover book with content from this blog.

Their latest deal hooks together their book creation facility with one the leading US-based cooking recipe sites, and it seems like a great fit, with users having the ability to combine their own personal recipes and images with the 40,000 already available at the site. The site, with its one million-plus membership and five million-plus monthly viewership, was acquired by Reader's Digest in 2006.

The books are touted as great gifts and keepsakes, as well as "working cookbooks" for regular use in the kitchen, at least in those homes where the "kitchen computer" has yet to find a place. Along with driving directions, single-page cooking recipes are certainly one of the home printer's newest regular chores, at least at my house, so it makes sense that a more permanent book form of this application would find a place in many kitchen libraries. I'm planning to give "Create-A-Cookbook" a try, so stay tuned.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Antonio Perez takes a shot

Kevin Maney's Tech Observer blog contains a post from over the weekend about his discussion with Kodak (EK) chairman and CEO Antonio Perez on the subject of Silverbrook Research and Memjet. Despite Eastman Kodak Company's good news last week including profitable third quarter and the EasyShare inkjet all-in-one printers now being available at an amazing 7,600 retail outlets worldwide, Kevin seems to have caught Antonio with an ire-inspiring question. I've documented both HP (NYSE HPQ) and Lexmark's (NYSE LXK) rather grumpy responses about Memjet's promise in the past, so maybe Perez felt like it was his turn to go on the record.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

More on those trillions of pages

The Xerox blog "The Future of Documents" by Francois Ragnet has a recent post worth reviewing, attempting to reconcile HP's (NYSE HPQ) "total market size" number of 48 trillion printed pages today, growing to 53 trillion in 2010. He brings in a Lyra Research market assessment, that puts the 2006 worldwide paper market at 15.2 trillion pages, and goes on to delineate what they include in their estimate. It seems interesting that one number is three times the size of the other, especially when I look at the Lyra definitions and try to think of what they DON'T include in their count (that would account for two-thirds of the HP-supplied number).

I'll invite readers with paper industry expertise to weigh in.

And as far as "How Big is Big"? I think I agree with Francois that yes, all these numbers truly are big!

GreenPrint, Xerox Solid Ink Printers get together

Two companies I've blogged about this year have come together in a partnership that apparently is designed to help Xerox owners print less! Buyers of Xerox's Phaser 8560 and 8860 printer/all-in-one solid ink jet color products will be entitled to a free download of the popular GreenPrint software, which actually makes perfect sense combined with the strong Xerox (NYSE XRX) "Green" message.

It's been quite a year for Portland-based start-up GreenPrint (see "Making it to the Top of the PR Mountain"), and Xerox has been getting a lot of "ink" as well (see "Note to Xerox: You got HP's attention".)