Saturday, February 28, 2009

Off to Demo09


This Sunday, March 1st, not only signifies that we made it through another February, it's also the day the 19th annual Demo Conference kicks off in Palm Springs. I have been to most of the conferences, missing a mere handful, for many years as a tech industry member and more recently as a journalist/blogger, covering for both The Hard Copy Observer and this blog. Though the economy has had its impact on Demo, with only about half the normal number of companies presenting (see "Demo09 presenters unveiled"), I'm predicting a good show with a number of surprises. Printing and imaging announcements are in the definite minority, always, but uncovering a nugget or two of interest to our industry is always a welcome challenge. Watch for a few updates live from the Springs!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Do we need printer industry tweets?


Rarely in my observation has a crescendo of buzz peaked (?) around anything quite like the way it has recently around the social networking phenomenon Twitter. Just in the last 24 hours, we've had NBC Anchorman Brian Williams commenting on it with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, rumors about a possible acquisition of Twitter by Google (NASDAQ GOOG), and buzz and then some scandal about members of Congress twittering during President Obama's semi-State of the Union address earlier in the week.

The tech industry is being covered by a bevy of Twitterers (or Tweeters?), including a "Top Ten" as offered by TechRepublic's blogger-in-chief (and Editor in Chief) Jason Hiner at Tech Sanity Check. (See "Techies: The top 10 people you should follow on Twitter".) I've been "following" a number of the Top 10 for a bit now, along with a few other favorites, and their prodigious output of tweets amazes me. I'm inclined to believe there will be continued value in this multitude of short bursts of informational tidbits, and I've learned to not refer to the Twitter phenomenon by the "F word". (Social media's version of the "F word" btw is a three-letter word, ending with a "d".)

But does the printer industry need active Twitterers*? Just as we've welcomed a number of bloggers to our industry over the last year, let us know on the Twittering. I'm off to Demo2009 early next week, and will be ramping up my tweets as a test!

* I'm assuming I'm not missing some existing ones -- let me know otherwise!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Government Printing

While this one is a bit off the beaten track, I had to post about Carl Malamud and his efforts to become the new US printing chief. His efforts (like a lot of things) made it on my radar screen thanks to Techdirt.com and Mike Masnick's post, "Time To Make Carl Malamud Head Of The Government Printing Office".

The domain name used by Malamud's campaign, yeswescan.com, was enough to get my attention, and the one-pager readers will find after clicking there offers some interesting insight into the history of the US Government's printing office, including for me the whole idea how synonymous the terms "printing" and "information dissemination" are. As we debate the future of printing, in our much narrower terms, it's very useful to think more broadly as well.

One direct quote at the yeswescan.com site deserves a call-out. It's in reference to the future of print shop jobs and the need for workers to be trained in other skills:
As commodity printing goes the way of the PDF file and the copy machine, GPO must retrain and refocus its workforce, working with the unions and the employees so we may face the challenges of the future.

No doubt very true, but it also brings to mind opportunities closer to home -- I bet the GPO needs a heavy dose of MPS!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Xerox (NYSE XRX) Tries to Go Beyond Copiers -- Today's Wall Street Journal

Today's Wall Street Journal has a great piece by Bill Bulkeley, "Xerox Tries to Go Beyond Copiers -- Vendor Pushes Services That Eliminate Office Machines, Reduce Paper Use".

In a brief (to me anyway!) 800 words or so, Bulkeley describes the state of Managed Print Services (MPS), one of our industry's bright spots in this tumultuous year, with some great insights (and data). He covers, as the story title suggests, Xerox and their MPS efforts, and also those of HP (NYSE HPQ), with brief mentions of Ricoh and Sharp as well.

Bulkeley points to some of the seeming contradictions, or at least changes in behavior, taking place among the industry leaders, as they shift from hardware- and supplies-oriented marketing activities to a services-oriented offering that major enterprise customers are asking for, including ultimately a reduction of overall page-for-page printing and copying volume. He rounds up a great representation of thoughts from manufacturing company execs and their customers along with other industry players, including a quote from my colleague Ed Crowley of Photizo Group, and yes, this blogger.

Highly recommended reading!

Thanks for listening, PC Magazine!

(Editor's note -- Yesterday's post, "Observations: The New (Online) PC Magazine", is my traditional once-a-month column that also appears in The Hard Copy Observer. I write that column on a more typical print publication cycle, in this case on a monthly schedule, so it's been complete for a couple of weeks by the time the Observer hits the streets and I then simultaneously post on my blog. As it turns out, PC Magazine responded to some of the criticisms expressed in my column before its publication date, so I am setting the record straight here, and thanks, PC Magazine!)

My last two monthly "Observations" columns, for January 2009 and February 2009, have highlighted PC Magazine's transition to an online-only publication.

In the February version, I highlight the receipt of the first all-online edition, and noted my surprise at its inability (really the Zinio reader's inability) to print more than two pages at a time.

The surprise came when I wanted to print. First, the FAQ’s should have told me all I needed to know—“Q: Can I print? A: Yes. You can print from your digital issue of PC Magazine. The only limitation is that each print job is limited to the visible pages (one or two pages).” So in other words, recreating the print magazine was going to be a lot of trouble, many more steps than simply printing an entire PDF file. My bubble was burst—this is not a case of distribute-and-print nearly as much as a case of moving from print to online. I had pictured a print capability, based on the previous announcements or at least how my personal mindset interpreted those announcements, as sort of a “push one button and the whole magazine spits out” solution. Not the case.


Well, PC Magazine was listening! (Truth be told, they were listening but not to me -- my column was written and "in the can", but not yet published, when I received an email from Stephanie Chang, editor of PC's digital edition, sent to all subscribers.

The February 18th email, after thanking subscribers for coming along for the ride in the switch to all-digital distribution, continues (bold-face emphasis is mine):

To those of you who wrote to us, saying that, unfortunately, the transition was not as smooth as you had hoped it would be, we apologize. We read every email and forum post, and let me assure you, we don’t take them lightly.

We have spoken with Zinio, our digital magazine distributor, and are happy to report that we are making changes to our format and features, to immediately improve your experience with PC Magazine Digital Edition.

Printing: If you view the magazine by downloading it and using the free Zinio reader software, you now have the option to print the entire magazine—or as many pages as you’d like—in one print job. Starting with the February issue, the ability to print the whole magazine or multiple pages at once will be a built-in feature. Important: in order to activate this feature, please download the February issue again and overwrite the copy you have.


The email goes on to address two other improvements, addressing navigation and access issues, but the printing question was clearly top-of-mind!

So thanks PC Magazine and I can't wait to try the print feature. But that will have to wait until the March issue, as I've already read February via the "old fashioned" online method!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Observations: The New (Online) PC Magazine

Observations: The New (Online) PC Magazine
Last month’s Observations column covered some recollections and, yes, nostalgia triggered by the delivery of the last print version of PC Magazine. I made the point in that column that the conversion of PC Magazine to an online-only but print-on-demand publication was an important milestone in the developing (though long-predicted) future of electronic distribution of content.

With fully enabled electronic communication, this information future (that we are well into by now) is based on efficiency of electronic distribution in terms of cost and timeliness. The predicted payoff for the printer and printing industries is that the information can still be consumed in printed form, at the reader’s discretion, by printing it locally. Theoretically, much of the content out there is best consumed in print form, so less central printing but far more local printing.

This month’s column is triggered by the arrival of an e-mail announcing the first fully online version of PC Magazine — the February 2009 edition. As a subscriber, it is available to me via the Zinio.com online reader site, which seemed new to me, but with a little investigation, I realized it is not new at all. As early as 2006, I used the site to take a look at the electronic version of eWeek, which began as PC Week (which is a whole separate set of memories and nostalgia that we do not have time for in this particular column).


PC Magazine looks like its old self in Zinio -- just virtual only starting in February 2009

PC Magazine has used Zinio for its digital distribution for a number of years, at least six according to my research. But remember, this is different than PC Magazine online that shares its content as part of ZDNet. Zinio features true digitized versions of real magazines, such as Popular Science, so PC Magazine is right at home and has been for a long time. Scrolling through the magazine online was a fairly positive experience, not much different than reading a large PDF in Acrobat, truthfully. It is the familiar linear construction and not the hyper-linked Web form we have come to know so well, and I hesitate to refer to it as a magazine metaphor, because it is a magazine, just in digital form.


Clever column title by Dan Costa -- page 27 of the February 2009 issue, read via Zinio

The surprise came when I wanted to print. First, the FAQ’s should have told me all I needed to know—“Q: Can I print? A: Yes. You can print from your digital issue of PC Magazine. The only limitation is that each print job is limited to the visible pages (one or two pages).” So in other words, recreating the print magazine was going to be a lot of trouble, many more steps than simply printing an entire PDF file. My bubble was burst—this is not a case of distribute-and-print nearly as much as a case of moving from print to online. I had pictured a print capability, based on the previous announcements or at least how my personal mindset interpreted those announcements, as sort of a “push one button and the whole magazine spits out” solution. Not the case.


Printed on an HP LaserJet -- two pages at a time (facing pages) maximum

So now the PC Magazine folks are in fact publishing in magazine format for online consumption. Some casual printing will continue, just as it does from Web browsers today, but it is the exception and not the rule. It will be interesting to see how long the magazine metaphor continues. It seems to me that once existing subscribers and advertisers trickle away, the Web version of the content will rule, even if the dream of a business model with two solid revenue streams from those two groups, may seem like a long-ago dream.

On the more positive side, as a PC Magazine subscriber for awhile longer, I will keep getting the digital issues, and I am hoping for quick delivery of the announced Zinio iPhone application, for reading PC Magazine on my trusty Apple iPhone.

Nostalgia For PC Mag Printer Issue

After the last column closed, I received e-mail responses from two PC Magazine insiders that I thought my readers would enjoy as well. Remember, it was the last column where I waxed nostalgic about the old PC Magazine Annual Printer edition.

The first response is from Michael Miller, who served for many years as PC Magazine’s Managing Editor.

“The printer issue was a big deal, for years the biggest single project in the labs until we started a similar project for PCs in the fall. The coordination required to make it work was immense, too—the labs folks and the editors would have these big spreadsheets to keep track of everything. All the vendors would come in and explain their products to us, but in the end, it was all about the lab tests.”


The second response is from M. David Stone, still with the magazine, and someone many of us in the printer business have known, or known of, seemingly forever. David is currently listed in PC Magazine’s masthead as a Lead Analyst for PC Labs, but he’s “the ultimate” when it comes to printer reviews and has been for a long, long time.

“As for memories: I could be wrong, but I think I’m the only writer who participated in every printer blockbuster issue—including one year when I was writing a book but snuck in one review just to maintain an unbroken record. All those years tend to blend into each other, but I clearly recall in the early years a core group of repeat offenders sitting in the labs every year, calling out—and answering— questions like, ‘What’s the Epson Escape code for compressed text?’ After two or three weeks of this, each of us had all the important codes for all the key languages memorized, only to half forget them before the next year’s project. After Windows took over from DOS, we stopped entering the printer commands manually, but a few of us still remember what a ^H means. (That’s a backspace, for those of you who never needed to know.)

“I also remember the early days of network printer testing, when setting up a printer to work on a network was a project by itself. To make sure we could achieve this, we asked vendors to send a technician to the labs during testing. In general, we first tried to set up the printers ourselves but gave up once we decided that the particular printer’s setup was beyond human ken. I remember a case when it took the vendor over two days to get the printer working. Fortunately, network printer setup has gotten a lot easier since then or I’d have time for far fewer printer reviews.”


Thanks for Michael and David for sharing those memories!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

One year old and growing -- Congrats Greg Walters and The Death of the Copier

Just a congratulatory note to recognize my blogging colleague and friend Greg Walters. He's passed his one-year anniversary with The Death of the Copier blog.

Walters has a thoughtful post (see "Death Of The Copier a Year Later: When does a Blog stop being a Blog?") reflecting on the year, and his blog's growth as an important voice in our industry.

Best wishes to Greg Walters and The Death of the Copier, with my encouragement to keep up the good commentary, sense of humor, and that occasional hint of irreverence! And as always I appreciate your encouragement, active readership and commentary on my blog!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

OfficeMax (NYSE OMX) meets Sex in the City? "An Occupation with Style" catalog.


In my faculty role teaching MBA-level marketing for University of Phoenix, one of the great joys is observing the sometimes eye-opening experiences of my students, as they become more aware of the marketing activity that surrounds all of us. (And by the way, the eye-opening experiences aren't just confined to the students. Since beginning my teaching career two-and-a-half years ago, I have become far more tuned in to ubiquitous marketing practices, both broad and subtle, even though I've worked in marketing or marketing-related functions for my entire career.)

In a final-night-of-class session the other evening, an enlightened student brought in the latest OfficeMax (NYSE OMX) catalog that had recently appeared in her office, a governmental organization that is no doubt a large consumer of office supplies. This catalog sparked her interest, though, because of its stark contrast to the typical Office Superstore Sunday newspaper supplement. Slick, glossy, printed on heavy paper, featuring "beautiful people", each clearly employed in "an occupation with style" (the catalog's title), this piece is still clearly (though tastefully) labeled with the OfficeMax brand, but is targeted at a market characterized much more by Carrie Bradshaw than Dwight Schrute.

The multi-page catalog features stylish office supplies and fixtures, but alas, printer fans, no rhinestone-encrusted toner cartridges!

BTW another aspect of my marketing curriculum includes an update on Web 2.0 and User-Generated Content, at least in terms of their impact on the future of marketing. So it seemed appropriate to search on "An occupation with style" to see what's out there on the Web. The complete phrase, complete with the quote marks, brings up a mere six hits on Google Web Search. And only two of the six seem to refer to the catalog. One is a comment on the Momslikeme.com site about the DiNova file folders, available in the catalog's pages, and another is a Twitter Tweet from a source I'd just as soon not quote nor identify.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

HP (NYSE HPQ) confirms -- overall printing is down

Yesterday's earnings announcement by HP (NYSE HPQ) included the security analyst conference call, with its usual briefing followed by questions and answers. Two key passages, one in each section, reflected on some of the slowness the industry leader is seeing in its Imaging and Printing Group's (IPG's) business. As I've blogged about numerous times previously (e.g. see "Lyra Power Panel"), the remarks have to do with the economic downturn, and the purported correlation between print volumes and economic activity, with the added concept that new printer purchases are affected as well. (Since the beginning days of the LaserJet business 25 years ago, it has been acknowledged by industry insiders and customers alike that at least many printer models were so well made that upgrade and replacement cycles could be extended much beyond the typical time span associated with other tech products like PCs. Apparently that is still true today!)

I've included some of the comments, including the remarks by HP CFO Cathie Lesjak and CEO Mark Hurd, as well as the question by analyst Toni Sacconaghi of Sanford C. Bernstein.

Excerpted from the prepared remarks* (with my emphasis added via boldface type):

Cathie Lesjak - Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. - EVP & CFO
Imaging and printing revenue for Q1 was $6 billion, down 19% year on year due to a tough economic environment. Segment operating margin increased 300 basis points to 18.5%, as favorable supplies mix and cost reductions were partially offset by hardware discounting. Compared to first quarter last year, total printer units were down 33%, and commercial and consumer hardware revenue declined 34% and 37% respectively. Supplies revenues declined 7% as lower end user demand more than offset the benefit of recent supplies price increases. Customers are extending the life of their printer, and our installed base remains stable. We maintained strong market position in printing, and will continue to invest in market-leading innovation focused on high-page value segments and drive the conversion to digital printing.


From the questions and answers session* (and again, with my emphasis added via boldface type):

Tony [sic] Sacconaghi - Sanford C. Bernstein & Company, Inc. - Analyst
Yes, thank you. I wanted to follow up on your commentary about supplies. If we look at supplies growth over the last three quarters prior to this one, it had been 9% to 11%. This quarter was it minus 7%, so about a 16% to 18% swing negatively. And yet, you should have begun to enjoy 2% to 5% supplies price increases. So if your install base is the same, and the usage is ultimately what has changed, are you really seeing about a 20% change in supplies usage in one quarter? Is that effectively what you are seeing, or is there other stuff behind it?

Cathie Lesjak - Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. - EVP & CFO
Tony, I think your math is roughly right. I mean, there is lots of puts and takes in terms of what goes into what is driving thedecline in supplies. We certainly had a benefit of pricing, and we'll have that benefit in Q2 to Q4 as well -- in fact, an increasing benefit. But the bottom line is, folks, the end-user demand for supplies is down, and we actually expect with the change in channel inventories that we want to make in Q2, and that's included in our guidance already, but with that change that supplies growth will go yet even more negative than 7% in Q2 and Q3. So we do think there are significant headwinds still ahead of us on supplies growth, and that that won't turn around until the economy starts to rebound. And at that point in time, we do believe we get back to a market that's going to grow in the mid-single digits. But we do need the economy to start to turn around, so folks start printing more and frankly start stocking their pantry again, because we do think there is a certain amount of that going on in the consumer's homes as well.

Mark Hurd - Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. - Chairman, CEO & President
I think, Tony, we do a lot of work on that as you know, and there is definitely an alignment between -- or at least some alignment between GDP and unemployment and printing. So when you get down to the end of the day, when you don't have a job, you are not printing as much is typically how it works. And we have some pretty sophisticated models. But there are also these other issues that Cathie described. We're trying to get the inventories in the right place, and with the speed that Cathie mentioned in our script, we have got some work to do. The price increase, to your point, is a positive. But to very blunt with you, I'm not entirely happy with how the inventory got distributed within the context of the quarter, meaning that we have the right thing at the right place at the right time, and we have got some work to do on that part of it. So some of it, Tony [sic], is the external factors that Kathy [sic] went through. We have got some internal stuff to get right to as we get back to this sort of range that Cathie described.


*The entire transcript is available at HP's web site.

Rob Sethre over at the Imaging Industry Wall Street Insider blog, "HP -- Looking for Balance".

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

HP (NYSE HPQ) Printer Metrics

HP's conference call is ongoing, not yet to the Q&A, but wanted to share the updated "Printer Metrics" table that I use to track the key numbers that the company includes as part of the quarterly announcement.

Note the declines in hardware, continuing a trend but down much more sharply than we've seen before. Also note the lack of inclusion of "standout" segments HP has highlighted irregularly -- appliance photo printers, AIO's, and most recently, wireless printers.

An amazing performance overall, to be sure. 19% revenue decline for IPG overall, a decline in supplies and all those 30-plus numbers in the hardware categories, both units and revenues, but... profit over $1.1 Billion, within shouting distance of the highest profits ever ($1.2 Billion, three separate quarters) for the business.

(note to readers: the growing spreadsheet has finally scrolled off the blog page, in both dimensions, so just use your cursor to navigate to the hidden cells.)

HP (NYSE HPQ) results in -- a 19% revenue decline in printing and imaging

HP (NYSE HPQ) is out with Q1 earnings after today's market close, and overall, in keeping with the times, the company is reporting some somewhat stunning numbers, both good and bad. Overall the company is up in quarterly revenue by 1%, year over year, and EPS (non-GAPP diluted) actually increased 8%.

And the imaging and printing story is a bit mixed, with a (to me anyway) stunning 19% decline in quarterly revenue, to $6.0 Billion, but a similarly amazing flat operating profit, at $1.1 Billion, on the back of hugely improved profit margin (18.5%!).

More to follow!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Dream" photo frame includes printer


Danny Allen at PC World was having some fun recently with his piece on "A Digital Photo Frame That Goes Beyond Image".

By taking the best of what's out there in various photo frame and related products, Allen puts together a mash-up product that includes touchscreen capabilities, state-of-the-art network connectivity, built-in web cam, and a front-facing shortcut strip for frame controls, in addition to built-in printing. Reference products for the printing function are the SmartParts SP8PRT (see "Frame that prints") and the Keian P71-A2-JP, but he also mentions a Zink printing solution. The latter could be as announced at CES 2009, with Zink's partner agreement with Lite-On.

One of the comments to Allen's Geek Tech blog post includes mention of e-book reading capability, which came up during the holidays around my household, as one of several "Dr Frankenstein" ideas, for the multiple electronic photo frames given and received.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Memjet views on the economic downturn and opportunity

Kara Soos at the Databazaar Blog has an excellent update on Silverbrook Research and Memjet Technology, in the form of an interview with Kim Beswick, Vice President of Memjet Home and Office, titled "Memjet Technology Steps Out Into the Spotlight".

I recommend the entire piece, but was particularly intrigued by Beswick's comments about the impact of today's negative economic environment, including some ideas that it might not be such a bad thing, at least for Memjet.

From a customer standpoint, there's evidence from recent industry analyst webinars and web conferences that businesses, for instance, are both delaying IT spending and also considering new ways to save IT dollars. I think there are two potential benefits from this trend.

First, businesses that are freezing or delaying IT spending in the area of printing and imaging products might just be getting back to necessary purchases in late 2009 and 2010, and although I don't expect a complete return to previous spending patterns, there may in fact be a backlog of needs that need to be fulfilled.

Secondly, as customers explore new creative ways to save money or to increase the efficiency of their businesses, there is a natural tendency to explore new brands, new technologies, and new ways of achieving value. The last analyst call I was on predicted, for instance, that a greater number of customers would be considering and purchasing cheaper non-OEM supplies options. I believe our OEM brands and Memjet will benefit from this departure from the status quo because Memjet has a strong economic message, plans to help customers save costs through "authorized refill," and hopes to be a new compelling choice in printing.


Interesting thinking and quite parallel in some ways to a post I put up several months ago (see "The economy and Managed Print Services") where I pointed out at least the possibility that the MPS market could see some upside from a more controlled IT spending environment. That's also consistent (if you're an optimist anyway!) with a piece in Forbes earlier this week, "Shrinking IT Dollars
-- McKinsey & Co. predicts that IT and corporate finance will merge"
.

Great observations on the newspaper business

So this doesn't have much to do with printing, at least directly, but I'm making myself a few allowances on a Friday afternoon heading into a holiday weekend.

Mike Masnick, in his usual incisive manner, has a great post at Techdirt well worth my readers' while, in my opinion. He summarizes and analyzes the comments from a recent Charlie Rose show and its newspaper management panel in "WSJ Editor Claims Google Devalues Everything".

As those paying attention know, the long decline in newspaper readership has long been exacerbated by competing media forms, the latest being the Internet. And more recently the business is suffering, like most media businesses, from an overall decline in advertising correlated directly with the economic slowdown. But as Masnick points out, the opportunities granted by the Web and the perceived demon Google are enormous, and it's up to the industry, at least those in the industry who plan to survive, to figure it out.

Where does this relate to print? It seems even still the mindset of too many of those in the business is stuck with the model of literally, the News-Paper business. "If it ain't printed (centrally I might add), it ain't a newspaper and we can't sell it."

Thanks, Mike, for the excellent thoughts!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Australian toner fears are back

A printer industry story originating in Australia in 2007 (See "Second Hand Toner") has re-surfaced with more to back it up this time. It's an article entitled "An Investigation into the Characteristics and Formation Mechanisms of Particles Originating from the Operation of Laser Printers" in the current (43:4) Environmental Science and Technology, a publication of the American Chemical Society (ACS). The lead author is the same scientist who raised the issue previously. She is Linda Morawska, of Queensland University of Technology, and this time she has the support of 11 co-authors.

So far the general and business press is slow to pick up on the story, with just a few mentions as of mid-afternoon US Time. ABC Australia's excellent "Laser printer debate heats up" recaps the history of the story and has a current comment from HP (NYSE HPQ) press agency Burson-Marsteller, pointing out HP's interest in research the danger of ultra-fine particles (UFPs) in the office but also expressing skepticism towards a direct correlation between toner and paper and UFPs.

I have not gained access to the entire article as of yet, but here's an introductory quote from the abstract:

While current research has demonstrated that the operation of some laser printers results in emission of high concentrations of ultrafine particles, fundamental gaps in knowledge in relation to the emissions still remain. In particular, there have been no answers provided to questions such as the following: (1) What is the composition of the particles? (2) What are their formation mechanisms? (3) Why are some printers high emitters, while others are low? Considering the widespread use of printers and human exposure to these particles, understanding the process of particle formation is of critical importance. This study, using state-of-the-art instrumental methods, has addressed these three points.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Livescribe adds $10 million in funding

In the news this morning is that Livescribe, a company I've followed here regularly (most recently, see "CES 2009 Perspectives -- a good year for printing and imaging products"), has acquired an additional $10 million in venture funding, from previous backers Lionhart Investments Ltd. and VantagePoint Venture Partners.

Especially in these times, it's always nice to see a funding round (#4 for Livescribe) for a company that's part of our industry.

Also, there's a recent (yesterday) video review of the Livescribe Pulse from PC World available. See "Livescribe Digital Pen Talks Back".

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dell (NASDAQ DELL) Wasabi PZ310, Zink-based printer, now available


A month and a day after I blogged about the Dell/Zink print from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (see "CES Update"), the companies announced today that the diminutive battery-powered printer is now available for immediate shipment directly from Dell (see "Cute. Small. Easy. Affordable.")

The printer can be ordered for immediate delivery from Dell's web site, for $99 (a $50 instant rebate off the $149 "starting" price.) The printer comes in three colors (see above), and features Bluetooth connectivity, along with PictBridge USB capabilities. While the virtues of "Zero Ink" have been touted elsewhere, the Wasabi PZ310 has one other feature I think deserves kudos -- a "reprint" button, described as follows:

Want more than one print of the same shot? With one-touch reprint, your wish is Wasabi’s command.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Amazon (NASDAQ AMZN) and the new Kindle 2


Amazon's (NASDAQ AMZN) new Kindle 2 has been unveiled today. Interesting that the firm chose today (Feb 9) and not a week ago, Groundhog's Day, and certainly would have prompted a few references, not so much about the mythical rodent's search for his shadow as the movie of the same name, Groundhog Day, where events repeat themselves.  The Kindle 2 is much better e-book reader than the original though, as one might expect, with smaller size, brighter display, faster performance, longer batter life, etc., just like we have come to anticipate from any good high tech redux.

And oh, is the Kindle a popular product and a fitting representative of a popular category! Per my Google News index, a search on "Kindle" currently is yielding nearly 5,000 hits this morning. Remember a month ago, when I performed the same tests a few times on "CES Printer" and came up with what I judged as a respectable range of numbers in the 500 range. 

Just for fun, combining the terms, to perhaps see if anyone out there is calling for print capabilities in the new Kindle, the phrase "Kindle Printer" yields a grand total of 5 hits, including one repeat. This is worth re-checking though, as the pundits start to analyze and write about what makes a better Kindle or competitor, e.g. the ability to print, as I suggested in late 2007 with my post, Kindle Printing.


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

HP (NYSE HPQ) spam -- Macintosh Quarterly Newsletter

That subject line, specifically the use of the "s" word, is done with a little fun in mind, but fact is I haven't used a Mac in at least 10 years (though I have no fundamental reason not to) and am still getting this email from HP! Having been part of the HP LaserJet for the Mac effort in the early 1990's, I have fondness for the products from both companies (HP and Apple), so please keep these coming, HP (I'm opting in)!

On the not-exactly-Macintosh front, there WAS something relevant in this issue, titled "Find Out What HP Introduced for You at Macworld". This one I knew about, and have covered here, but it added some detail nonetheless, i.e. the "Just Launched: HP iPrint Photo" article, excerpted here:

The Mac community was abuzz late last month when HP introduced the first free photo printing application of its kind (1) for iPhone and iPod touch customers - HP iPrint Photo. Available at no charge from Apple’s App Store, HP iPrint Photo provides users the freedom and flexibility to wirelessly print the numerous photos that have been captured and stored on iPhone or iPod touch devices.

HP iPrint Photo allows for quick and easy wireless printing of 4 x 6-inch photos from an iPhone or iPod touch to most HP inkjet printers connected to a local Wi-Fi network. (2) The application is compatible with Apple’s Bonjour technology and features the innovative Multi-Touch interface for the easiest and fastest wireless iPhone or iPod touch print experience. (3)

“HP has a long history of supporting Mac users with our printing solutions,” said Darrell Walker, who worked on developing HP iPrint Photo. “One of our goals is to help make printing relevant to mobile users, and we’re delighted with our customers’ response to HP iPrint Photo.”

The response to the application has been amazing – to date, HP iPrint Photo was one of the top five “Photography” downloads and has received highly positive customer feedback on the Apple App Store and in Mac enthusiast forums with 1,602 reviews posted on the Apple iPhone App Store via an iPhone, and 211 reviews posted on the Apple App Store on iTunes.

During the show, attendees were able to download and experience HP iPrint Photo for the first time through the HP iPrint Gallery, an interactive photo installation located within the HP booth. Additionally, HP’s Rick Spillers demonstrated HP iPrint Photo to 25 worldwide media, who also found the application to be “really interesting” and “very cool.”