Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Silverbrook/Memjet story featured in keynote

Live from the 2008 Lyra Imaging Symposium in Rancho Mirage CA

The Symposium Keynote -- Bill McGlynn, a long-time HP printer executive who is now CEO of Memjet Home and Office began his speech recalling his experience with the original HP LaserJet printer and the revelation of the Canon SX laser engine that led to it – an “exothermic epiphany”, in his words, that happened in the early 1980’s. It was a very rare event. More typical in our industry and others in high tech is the steady, marching incremental improvement. But that sensory feeling that he equated to the “Smell of Grandma’s Baked bread…” does indeed happen every once in a great while. And for McGlynn, “once in a lifetime” happened twice.

After leaving HP several years ago, he was invited on a trip to Sydney Australia where saw the startling Silverbrook printing demo. He did what any of us would do – looked for tricks or gimmicks. But in reviewing fundamental details of Silverbrook’s technology, which he shared for the Lyra audience, he was convinced they were on to something breakthrough. Since signing on with the company he's also been excited to participate in breakthroughs outside the tech arena, in areas like business models and pricing.

How did it happen in Australia, of all places? R&D facilities had sprouted in Australia due to a governmental trade-off that allowed corporations breaks on import duties in exchange for establishing research branches. When the Internet bubble burst at the end of last decade, freed-up world-class engineers and scientists became that Silverbrook Research was able to employ in their development. And it's also been the company's very patient angel investors over the last seven to eight years that have supported the Silverbrook development. A 13-year pre-revenue program could rarely if ever happen in a large company, with all the corporate ups and downs that would have inevitably led to the chopping block for a program like this.

Also when it comes to timing, the time for color is here, McGlynn asserts. Imagine a few tears ago -- color flat panels in the produce section of a grocery store? Color displays on mobile phones? Silverbrook technology delivers market-flipping potential for color over monochrome in everyday printing.

Another “exothermic epiphany” may be here. A color printer that goes at 60ppm, with a $300 street price? This combination just doesn't fit the organizational model within many existing printer companies – per McGlynn, a good indicator of true disruption. He goes on that these new economics of color printing open the door to non-incumbents, just as HP was a non-incumbent in desktop printing 25 years ago.


Jim Lyons said...

Live blogging comes with an increased risk of editing errors so I've cleaned up a few I found here after reviewing later in the day.

Jim Lyons

karinne said...

aaahh...I don't know. We (printing/ print head industry folks) have been "worried" to some degree about Silverbrook and Memjet for a few years now. Many of us are coming to several conclusions:
1) there's some brilliance there, in R&D and ideas.
2) execution and partnering are lacking
3)there are more things to consider than ppm. Sure, ppm is great, get it as high as you can- but different business models value different things, and unless Silverbrook is going to somehow lead the analog-to-digital pages move with really disruptive products (that no one has designed yet), ppm as a sole selling point just isn't the win.