Monday, September 15, 2008

More on printer industry disruption, business models and ambitions

My post from a week ago (see "Time covers Zink") highlighted Time Magazine's coverage of this summer's new Polaroid PoGo printer, but more significantly, the Time article focused on the primary technology supplier for the product, Zink.

Just as Zink is getting its share of coverage, last year's other printer industry 'out of nowhere' surprise, Memjet, has been back in the press as well, as summarized in my post of a few weeks ago. (see " 'Memjet print head revolution delayed'".)

The timing is not all the two disruptive efforts have in common. Their business history and structure have parallels, with the "overnight sensation, ten years in the making" affect, which in the Memjet companies' case, having had their technology quivers filled by the arrows from a decade-long path of research and development at Silverbrook Research.

The Zink and Memjet business models also have many similarities, where as component partners the companies physically supply other companies, who build and market the end-user printer products. (Referred to as "licensing" in some quarters, but more on this somewhat-confusing concept in a future post.) In Zink's case the first public partner is Polaroid, and in Memjet's case, the partners remain unannounced.

Some differences? This first big (and obvious) difference, is of course the stated "ink vs non-ink" nature of the base technologies. Somewhat ironically, however, it's the Memjet vision of disruption around cost-per-print, attributed to the industry's high-priced ink model, while the non-ink (I should say "zero ink") model remains somewhat more expensive to the consumer, at least on a print-by-print basis, at 33 cents for a 2x3 inch photo print (see "Latest Zink Milestone -- PC Mag on the Polaroid PoGo".)

The companies vary in their stated ambitions too. While Zink has been more narrowly focused around photo printing for camera phones, with a longer-term, broader vision of enabling printing where it's not been available before, it's a much wider array (pardon the pun) of printer industry ambition in the case of the Memjet companies. These include Labels, Home and Office, Photo Retail, and Wide Format, and includes each company with its own headquarters and staff with expertise in their respective market areas.

The upstarts of 2007 are putting their announcements into action in 2008, and there is definitely the promise of many more interesting stories to follow into 2009!


Greg Walters said...

As I look to the future, I can't help but wonder how long it will take for the xerographic process to completely die off - decades I imagine.

So every movement in another direction is very interesting to me - especially relative to Edgeline.

zang said...

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