In answering one of numerous questions -- this one from Richard Gardner of Citigroup -- regarding the printing business and its mostly negative numbers (see "HP Printing Metrics"), CEO Mark Hurd responded as follows (my emphasis, and yes that's all one sentence!):
Well, supplies if you start looking at the data we look at and I'll let [CFO] Cathie [Lesjak] comment on it as well, supplies has really been pretty consistent through this entire environment and you have to look at it again ex currency and you have to look at it ex inventory correction and when you look at the data we get back from consumers printing is one of the least things they want to stop and when we look at our enterprise business we actually have the benefit of having major contracts with very big companies where we actually manage all of their printing and they give us annual estimates for how much they will print in a year and most of our customers are exceeding those estimates even in this economy of how many pages they're printing so from a supplies perspective it's been pretty consistent and clearly what people have chosen to do is not buy that incremental unit they would ordinarily buy in a good economy.
While that's an interesting tidbit from a print demand standpoint (and would seemingly contradict indications of print declines from elsewhere), I am also fascinated by the idea that the presence of Managed Print Services contracts add foresight into print volumes and supplies revenues. What are possible reasons for printing increases, from an HP perspective? Are the devices under management (predominately HP-branded machines we assume) now the favored printers and copiers, taking on print volumes that might have been diverted outside the managed group? So perhaps overall printing is down in the organization but printing on the HP-managed hardware is up? Hmmm...stay tuned on this one.