Monday, March 09, 2009

Some comments on HP (NYSE HPQ) inkjet printing as part of Small Biz strategy

HP (NYSE HPQ) brought together some of its new OfficeJet printers last week, along with other components of the company's Small and Medium Business (SMB) marketing efforts, and the reaction so far is what I'd judge to be a little bit unusual.

First, a tweet from Rob Enderle of TechNewsWorld alerts to his story, "What Amazon and HP Are Now Learning from Apple". His article points to HP's multi-division effort in "launching" its SMB effort last week. (Having been around HP's activities in SMB markets for years if not decades, I'd opt for a more accurate "re-launch" verb choice.) But Enderle doesn't mention printers other than tossing out a reference to "...inkjet printers that outperform and are cheaper than their laser counterparts...", which has comprised an HP talking point for awhile (see "SMB Printing Highlights", one of my January Lyra Symposium updates). Neverless, it has to be considered as favorable for HP's marketing efforts to be lumped with Amazon (NASDAQ AMZN) and Apple (NASDAQ AAPL).

Second, a drill-down on ink pricing in the blog by Fredric Paul (see "Why Business Inkjet Printing Is So Cheap") provides some insight but also some grumbling. When HP explained to Paul that larger, refillable ink tanks allow a per-page ink price that's competitive or even cheaper than laser printing for the higher volume small-business customer, as opposed to the lighter-printing consumer stuck with non-refillable cartridges, Paul opines:

I don't want to be a curmudgeon, but I think everyone needs printing to be as efficient as possible, and printer companies risk a consumer backlash if people start to realize that the high prices they're paying for ink have little to do with costs and a lot to do with how much the printer companies think the market will bear.


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