Wednesday, February 28, 2007
This month's stories (it's still February as I write this) include a printer and supplies slant, in the HCO and HCSJ respectively, on the Eastman Kodak Company's new photo inkjet printers.
The Hard Copy Observer includes my monthly print column, "Observations", and is available by subscription only for $650/year subscription, so having a peak at the lead story, especially as an archive going back into 2004, is a good thing to know about.
With their somewhat inverted razor-and-blades model (i.e. higher printer prices, lower ink prices), Kodak has fired a shot across the bow of industry leaders like HP (NYSE HPQ), Lexmark, and Epson. Gary's analysis of Kodak's prospects is my kind of work, "combining historical perspective with an eye to the future". Seeing similarities between Kodak's current inkjet intentions and those of other firms, he recalls some good ones -- Xerox and the Blue Dog, Apollo (!) and Dell.
Provocative reading at the Gap Intelligence Pico-Letter!
The power to search across a broad library of reference material in BOOKS, in addition to WEB PAGES, really seems to bring full realization to the promise of "information at your fingertips". However, I am respectful of copyright and intellectual property ownership, thus the mixed emotions. However, once again, Mike at Techdirt succinctly summarizes the pros of letting Google (or Amazon or Yahoo) take on the centralized task rather than having individual publishers do their own indexing for just their properties.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Symbol Price Change Mkt cap
HPQ 38.92 -1.37 (-3.40%) 105.10B
EK 24.17 -0.55 (-2.22%) 6.94B
XRX 17.23 -0.68 (-3.80%) 16.34B
DELL 22.88 -0.92 (-3.87%) 51.97B
SPLS 25.99 -1.14 (-4.20%) 18.78B
RICOY 112.31 -0.69 (-0.61%) 16.39B
CAJ 53.42 -1.45 (-2.64%) 71.14B
LXK 59.84 -2.70 (-4.32%) 5.86B
IBM 93.96 -2.95 (-3.04%) 141.54B
It's good to see vendors other than Microsoft stepping in to help their customers. One example is Vince Ferraro's post today on the HP (NYSE HPQ) LaserJet Blog.
HP's Universal Print Driver for Vista is now available and works with the following:
HP LaserJet/Color LaserJet
CM1015mfp, 1150 series, 1160 series, 1200 series , 1300 series, 1320 series, 2100 series, 2200 series, 2300 series, 24x0 series, P2015 series, 2500 series, 2550 series, 2605 series, P2700 series, 3000 series, 301x series, P3005 series, 3020 series, M3027 series, 3030 series, M3035 series, 3052AiO, 3050 AiO, 3055AiO, 3200 series, 3300 series, 3300mfp, 3390 AiO, 3392 AiO, 3700 series, 3800 series, 4000 series, CP4005 series, 4050 series, 4100 series, 4100mfp, 4200 series, 4240 series, 4250 series, 4300 series, 4345 series, M4345 series, 4350 series, 4500 series, 4550 series, 4600 series, 4610 series, 4650 series, 4700 series, 4730mfp series, 5000 series, M5025 series, M5035 series, 5100 series, 5200 series, 5500 series, 5550 series, 8000 series, 8150 series, 8150mfp, 9000 series, 9000mfp, 9040 series, 9050 series, 9050mfp, 9055mfp, 9065mfp, 9500 series, 9500mfp.
HP Business Inkjet/Officejet
2250 series, 2280 series, 2300 series, 2600 series, 2800 series, 3000 series, 9100 series all-in-one.
Supported by HP postscript emulation driver edition only
HP Color LaserJet 2500 and 2550 series printers, 2800 series all-in-one; HP Business Inkjet 2800 series printer
In the interest of full disclosure: even though I see my two HP LaserJet models -- the 1320 and 2550 -- on the list, before I can do a test, I'm still waiting for my Vista upgrade to arrive in the mail! (How quaint huh?)
Monday, February 26, 2007
Last week, Blurb announced the inclusion of Blogger blogs on their "slurpable" list. So, the pressure's on...time for me to get going with Blurb's BookSmart and Blogger. Stay tuned for hands-on results!
Friday, February 23, 2007
Thursday, February 22, 2007
A great piece "combining historical perspective with a view to the future" (let's see, where have I heard that before?), it covers Xerox's deal with Fuji for photo-printing mini-labs, and Kodak's recent incursion into inkjet printers. Commercial printing is and has been a big battleground too, but Bill doesn't take things back as far as the foray by Kodak (Eastman Kodak Company) into the copier business. That one's even getting a bit old and dusty for me!
After a promising start in printers, moving quickly to No.3, the most recent quarterly data from research firm IDC shows Dell's market share at 3.6%, down from 6.2% the previous year.
Among other interesting tidbits is the use of the "h" word -- "hubris" -- in describing Dell's over-confidence in their business approach. Highly recommended reading!
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
The transcript of the conference call is available online today, but typo alert -- Page 5 states that unit sales of Printer-based MFP's grew at 8% year-over-year, but the official press release gives the number as 80%. (The latter number seems more in line with previous periods' numbers.) Very little about printers in the discussions, although Shannon Cross of Cross Research asked about Eastman Kodak's recently announced inkjet printers (Page 17), to which she got a pretty general reply from CEO Mark Hurd, including the remark that "competition is great" and that HP plans to pretty much stand pat on hardware and supplies pricing relationships.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
I'll be in the air during the live webcast but plan to post further analysis in the morning.
I'm especially interested to see how their printing and imaging numbers look, of course! Here's the summary from today's release:
Imaging and Printing Group
Imaging and Printing Group (IPG) revenue grew 7% year-over-year to $7.0 billion. On a year-over-year basis, supplies revenue grew 11%, commercial hardware revenue grew 2% and consumer hardware revenue was flat. Printer unit shipments increased 18% year-over-year, with consumer printer hardware units up 16% and commercial printer hardware units up 21%. Momentum in key growth initiatives continued, with all-in-one unit shipments up 27% year-over-year, appliance photo printers up 49%, color laser printers up 35% and printer-based MFPs up 80%. HP Indigo Press printed page volume grew 40% over the prior year period. Operating profit was $1.1 billion, or 15.3% of revenue, up from a profit of $973 million, or 14.9% of revenue, in the prior year period.
For reference here are the summary numbers from their last two quarters' announcements.
HPQ Imaging and Printing Group, Q4 2006
Imaging and Printing Group (IPG) revenue grew 7% year-over-year to $7.3 billion. On a year-over-year basis, supplies revenue grew 9%, commercial hardware revenue grew 8% and consumer hardware revenue grew 2%. Printer unit shipments increased 17% year-over-year, with consumer printer hardware units up 16% and commercial printer hardware units up 20%. Momentum in key growth initiatives continued, with all-in-one unit shipments up 22% year-over-year, appliance photo printers up 70%, color laser printer shipments up 40% and printer-based MFP shipments up 160%. HP Indigo Press printed page volume grew 41% over the prior year period. Operating profit was $1.1 billion, or 14.8% of revenue, up from a profit of $896 million, or 13.2% of revenue, in the prior year period.
Here's the Q3 2006 Summary
Overall rev +5% ($6.23B)
HW rev +1%
Supplies rev +9%
Total hw units +15%
Consumer hw rev -3%
Consumer hw units +13% with strong AIO
Commercial hw rev +3%
Commercial hw units +23%
Color Laser units +70%
Multifunction Laser units +196%
Digital press pages +37%
Op profit of $884 mil, 14.2% op margin
Friday, February 16, 2007
Thursday, February 15, 2007
by Jim Lyons
The Hard Copy Observer, February 2007
In the world of high-tech public relations, many try but very few make it to the mountaintop. The summit to which so many PR departments aspire is the Wall Street Journal’s "Personal Technology" column, written for many years by Walter Mossberg. In the pecking order of where a new (or old) company would ideally like to see a favorable review, this column is the long-reigning number one—the holy grail of high-tech PR—even in these days of new media. And GreenPrint Technology, a young company based in Portland, OR, that offers a single product, made it to the top with a full “Personal Technology” column and a corresponding appearance on CNBC in December 2006, both espousing the virtues of the firm’s GreenPrint software.
The reason GreenPrint’s triumph is worthy of mentioning in this column is that it is a printer software company. We all know that our industry tends toward the soft sell and normally goes about its business quietly, even as millions of printers are sold every year, along with tons of ink, toner, and paper, satisfying customer needs the world over with great-looking, easy-to-generate, and affordable hard copy output. The rigorous printer reviews that once appeared in the general technology press, feeding the PR cravings of us marketing and technical types, now mostly appear in specialized industry publications such as The Hard Copy Observer. But when a new printer or something printer-related captures the attention of someone as prominent as Walter Mossberg, we all need to pay heed, even when the technology being reviewed on the one hand seems to threaten our business (promoting less printing) and on the other hand is aimed directly at our customers’ interests and has the potential to increase their satisfaction with our products.
Even Mossberg seemed a little amused at his own interest in GreenPrint. In his December 7 column, he writes, "In the digital world, all the hype and attention paid to flashy products and services often drown out simple solutions to smaller, but still important, consumer needs. Yes, it is great that we can listen to music on iPods or post and view videos on YouTube. But why do we still have to waste paper when printing Web pages?" By way of further explanation, GreenPrint is a complete print solution that intercepts print jobs (on Windows-based PCs only, for now) before the pages are sent to the printer. Then, through a combination of user intervention and automated settings, the software reduces the number of pages actually printed. The GreenPrint solution, while amazingly simple, is quite complete and works with virtually all Windows-based applications, including Web browsers, Microsoft Office applications, and Adobe Acrobat Reader. Speaking of the latter, GreenPrint includes an excellent print preview for reviewing and culling print jobs and a PDF writer (sourced from Ghostscript supplier Artifex) that worked flawlessly for me and provides a nice tool on any PC. The remainder of my testing also went well, including printing duplexed pages, a function that GreenPrint fixed after Mossberg reported some problems. The only issue with the software that I found is a problem with Microsoft Word’s envelope-printing function, which the company had previously identified and is fixing.
GreenPrint’s stated mission is enabling a reduction in the use of natural resources, but Mossberg focuses on his personal number-one issue—that last, useless, nearly empty page that is inevitably output when printing from Web browsers. Having been directly involved in HP’s initial efforts to improve Web printing, I must admit that this “last page” problem has never been solved until now with GreenPrint’s solution—and I’ve been paying attention. A memory that still stings a little is when William Ryan (Internet expert and keynote speaker at the very first Lyra Imaging Symposium in 1998) accused me of being part of an industry conspiracy that liked the fact that every Web printout included one useless page that consumed extra ink or toner.
Over the last few months, I have observed a variety of user needs and the efforts within our industry to offer creative ways to meet those needs, including small businesses needing in-house marketing capabilities, Internet users just wanting a simple black-and-white print, or teachers needing to output inexpensive color prints for their classrooms. GreenPrint has done a great job of focusing on real customer needs, observed firsthand from an end-user and corporate standpoint. Hayden Hamilton, founder of GreenPrint, tells of being inspired to start his company by his work at the massive Ford manufacturing plant in England, where the printer stations would be clogged by midday with stacks of useless, unneeded, and discarded pages from print jobs. These pages represented a waste of resources and a loss of productivity, as they got in the way of employees finding their intended printouts.
So what happens when a young company reaches the top of that metaphorical mountain and receives a favorable review from Walter Mossberg? According to Hamilton, GreenPrint’s index of interest, as measured by e-mails in the thousands, soared after the review hit the streets. And the attention comes from end users and enterprises alike, with some great customer stories for my next column!
Adding on 5/2007 -- Link to original Wall Street Journal review.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
While not surprisingly (for a few reasons) the HP (NYSE HPQ) printers compare VERY WELL to the competition from Xerox, Lexmark, Dell, and others, the reports are produced by reliable third-party testing concerns QualityLogic and Spencer & Associates Publishing, Ltd (to old timers, simply "Spencer Labs"), and include lots of testing details on both performance and quality that both reflect real-world print speed comparisons (way beyond vendor "ppm"** claims) and the many components of print quality that combine into what real users notice.
* Printer models compared: Samsung CLP-300N, HP Color LaserJet 1600n, HP Color LaserJet 4700n, Xerox Phaser 6350DP, Konica Minolta 5450, Kyocera FS-C5030N, Ricoh SP C411DN, Lexmark C762, Dell 5110cn, HP Color LaserJet 3800n, Xerox Phaser 6300DN, Okidata C5450N, Xerox Phaser 8550DP, Ricoh CL3500N, Dell 5110cn, Lexmark C524n, HP Color LaserJet 3600n, Okidata C5250N, Xerox Phaser 8500N, Samsung CLP-600,Dell 3110cn
** ppm = pages per minute
Monday, February 12, 2007
The products are a mix of solid ink and color laser, with the lowest-priced among them, the Phaser 6180 color laser printer at $499, well above the $299 "entry" point for color lasers established in 2006 by Samsung, Konica Minolta, and HP, and as discussed at the Lyra Imaging Symposium two weeks ago. The printer, with speed ratings of 20 ppm for color and 26 ppm for monochrome, is in a different (higher) performance class than the other three vendors' entry-level products, at 17/4, 20/5, and 8/8, for the Samsung, KM, and HP (NYSE HPQ) machines, respectively.
News from the Barcelona-based 3GSM World Congress kicking off today includes a printing product! Sweden's Possio has announced the Greta, a printer-scanner-fax-mobile phone(!). My friends at engadget and Gizmodo are featuring this today.
Actually the company's "leaflet" (in English) is nicely done and worth looking at. It gives a glimpe into how the company sees this product fitting into the portable communications market.
And the color? I love it! In fact I just bought and installed an HP (NYSE HPQ) Photosmart C3140 All-in-one that came in "Citron" -- an interesting shade of green. It's of course inkjet technology -- Greta relies on thermal printing.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
The essence of his point is that while "Megapixels" are touted among vendors and resellers as if they're a digital camera's ultimate metric of goodness, there are many more important other factors that ultimately make photos good or bad -- and that's just within the camera!
I also like how David using his blog responses to improve his testing!
Friday, February 09, 2007
Marketwatch's blog by Herb Greenberg integrates a financial view of the Kodak business situation with their product strategy.
And also this week, vendor/reseller news from within the supplies side of the industry rose up into the general business press.
Mike at Techdirt does his usual great job bringing together a good summary of the supplies discussion in a platform that provokes a range of comments -- 33 at this count. Definitely worth reading! (And remember I used the word "range"!)
And back to the Kodak inkjet printer announcement -- I found this link to public radio's Marketplace (read or listen to the story at American Public Media's Marketplace). Their 2/6 edition features one of my favorite "voices", Kai Ryssdal, and one of my favorite "observers", Lyra's Charley LeCompte.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
John Biggs of GearCrunch takes us to the Feb 6th announcement in his post, complete with photos.
Mike at TechDirt picks up the theme of cheap ink and markets behaving the way they're supposed to, even if it takes awhile. 42 mostly interesting comments by this morning, too!
Paul Miller of Engadget also has a post including 11 comments, that run the range from enthusiastic to skeptical.
Kodak has delivered quite a story so far. We'll see about the products, but clearly as I've posted about here recently, the high cost of ink in consumer inkjet printers is pervasive in our popular culture, so basing their market thrust on that customer dis-satisfier seems like a good strategy.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
And back to the HP theme? With major IPG (Imaging and Printing Group) offices and staffers in Boise, and many more in San Diego, this should be a popular HP route. And Ontario CA? It's a 50-mile drive to Rancho Mirage, home to the annual Lyra Imaging Symposium!
CNET and others are covering it this morning. It seems the pricing model breakthrough that is intended to upset the HP (NYSE HPQ) applecart is based on separate head and ink components, allowing users to install a $10 or $15 ink tank in a printer while leaving the head intact.
More as it develops...
Monday, February 05, 2007
Here it is the Monday after Demo 2007 (also Monday after the Super Bowl) and it seems like it's a little late to be blogging about Demo. But of course it's not. It's just our fast-paced world these days that creates that perception, fueled by blogging and instant opinions. I remember my first Demo (1995) and being impressed at the stream of reviews and articles that didn't end for months.
So I'll be working on some more analysis of the interesting printing and imaging stories from this year's Demo. Zink, by the way, was rated #4 out of 62 at the blog VCRatings. Way to go Zink! Very impressive for a printer!
Saturday, February 03, 2007
The commercial's official name is "Muscles" and does refer to ink, not toner, though as an old HP (NYSE HPQ) LaserJet loyalist, I've always found the shake treatment also works for getting a few extra pages out of a toner cartridge, but of course not the whole printer!
Friday, February 02, 2007
Of course the pure printer play at Demo 2007 this year was Zink. Their coverage continues to grow -- my index of interest is Google News, where a simple search on "Zink" is revealing over hits 400 this morning (it was in the high 300's by yesterday). Here's an example of some of the coverage. They took advantage of the Number Two presenter spot on Day One, as it always seems easier to excite the Demo crowd early, and captured a lot of interest in their customer-pleasing prototypes. I've heard many times that camera phone photo printers will take off when the powers that be (handset makers and carriers) make it easier for users to "get their pictures out of their phones". Zink's solution (though of course they need partners to pull it off) prints cam-phone pix AS A WAY to get photos out of the phone. Fewer steps (and devices) beats more steps and devices every time if you ask me!
A couple of other hard-copy related companies at Demo included Ink2 and SharedBook, which I will include in a Demo roundup when I get back to my office.
Now off to Boise!
Thursday, February 01, 2007
The bad news/good news for me this winter conference season is that my two favorites were overlapping on the calendar but at least geographically proximate. Last year I covered both the Lyra Imaging Symposium and Demo 2006 and then they were a couple of weeks and a few hundred miles apart. This year, they're both going on during the SAME WEEK, but fortunately for me, only three miles apart, one in Rancho Mirage, the other in Palm Desert CA. So here I am at Demo, a day late and ...
And the big Demo, at least from a printer industry standpoint, was the Zink Imaging presentation from Wednesday January 31st. The company is offering a "non-ink-jet" photo printing technology that can be reduced in size to something as small as an Ipod, and integrated right into something like a camera phone. The video of the demo is available for your viewing. And the bloggers are loving it! Check out Gizmodo's post too.
I will visit them at the Demo Pavilion when it opens in a bit and give a more detailed report. It seems, from the Printer Industry insider perspective, this is very interesting but not without its flaws. It's not particularly cheap on a per print basis (20 cents for a 2x3), nor high quality, nor fast (30 seconds for the same 2x3). To me the real story, is, well, the story. This very sophisticated Demo crowd seems to be going wild over it. More soon...
The first of those comes from a Lyra Analyst preso that came during the supplies section of Lyra's Day Two. As a long-term printer marketing type, I always was, and still am, interested in just what those throngs of printer owners were doing with their machines. Going way back to the mid-80's and the early days of the HP (NYSE HPQ) LaserJet, business letters were a very popular application. The "big three" from the office, Word Processing, Spreadsheets, and Presentations, remained at the top for years, but then Web page and email printing crept up as popular drivers of printed pages. Just as predicted, "Distribute and Print" trends could be observed first hand from user data.
Of course, much depends on how the questions are asked, but Grey Held revealed the findings of a recent Lyra study of 265 home laser printer customers in the US, during his presentation on "Laser, Ink Jet, and Media Consumables: Analysis of Market Trends". Respondents were asked to identify their first, second, and third most frequently printed documents, and when the three responses were summed, what category was sitting in the #3 position? Printed Driving Directions at 41%! Text documents overwhelmed all other categories at over 90%, followed by email, driving directions, spreadsheets, other Web pages, news articles (which seem like they must come from the Web!), and finally presentation slides and high-res photos.
Actually when I think about our own home LaserJets, this really isn't surprising at all. Still it's great when the data bear out the new realities!