Monday, March 30, 2009

Kodak's Print and Prosper campaign

Last night, as I was doing research for this blog and watching NBC's "Celebrity Apprentice", awaiting another appearance from an industry player similar to last year's Kodak (NYSE EK) inkjet printer product placement, along comes a new series of commercials kicking off the new Kodak campaign for its inkjet printers, under the banner of "Print and Prosper".

Including such provocative messages as "customers overpaying $5 Billion too for ink", the 15-second spots push viewers to the web site, www.printandprosper.com, where users can use the "OVERPAYMENT CALCULATOR" (lots of all-caps on this site). They can compare Kodak's "FAIRLY PRICED INK" and the savings they could have gained vs printing at various usage levels and models from Brother, Canon, Epson, HP, and Lexmark.

Today's Wall Street Journal, in "Kodak Ads Get More Aggressive
Brand Takes On Rivals, Seeks Hipper Image as It Focuses on Printing Business"
by Suzanne Vranica, looks at Kodak's history and its current promotion strategy as managed by Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Hayzlett.

A new favorite iPhone app, JotNot

Last week I tweeted* about some amazing results (to me anyway) from Amazon's (NASDAQ AMZN) "Amazon Remembers" portion of the online bookseller's Apple (NASDAQ AAPL) iPhone app:

Amazon Remembers on iPhone is amazing -- it found me a GREEN LA Lakers cap to buy, based on the submitted photo of my friend's similar but not identical cap. 5:40 PM Mar 17th from web


(Once again, Twitter proves you can say most anything in 140 characters or less -- or at least attempt to!)

And one of my most respected writers and technoids, The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg, shared his iPhone favorites in March 26th's Personal Technology column"Some Favorite Apps That Make iPhone Worth the Price". He includes that "other" Amazon (NASDAQ AMZN) app, the Kindle book reader (see "Kindle Meets iPhone"), along with some of my other top apps, including the excellent Facebook and Google Mobile applications.

But now I've got another new favorite, JotNot, by Mobi Tech 3000 LTD. My first exposure was a profile in TechCrunch (see "JotNot Turns Your iPhone’s Camera Into A Document Scanner"), and since then I've purchased ($3.99) and downloaded the app, and put it to use. So far, so good! I've converted quick snaps of receipts and other paperwork into permanent photo records, and also made some previous whiteboard snaps clear and much more usable.

Recalling my enthusiasm for Amazon Remembers, I find JotNot interesting because its another application for iPhone's built-in digital camera that's not the traditional "picture-taking" mode that mimics traditional cameras, digital and film, but rather another, different use for captured still images.

To get started you can try their web version at www.jotnot.com.


* past tense of the verb, to tweet, per twittonary

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Twitter Printing


This post was inevitable, and it was just a matter of when. Following in the JimLyonsObservations.com tradition of iPhone Printing, Facebook Printing, Kindle Printing, and many others, finally there's a great example of an active Twitter user publishing two years' worth of Tweets in the form of a hardbound book.

James Bridle of Booktwo.org is the creator, and his post, "Vanity Press Plus: The Tweetbook", is well worth reviewing, as are the MANY comments! Bridle used Lulu, Adobe InDesign, and some ingenious techniques to produce his book, entitled "My Life in Tweets".

And thanks to Jennifer Cisney, Kodak's Chief Blogger and fellow Twitterer (@kodakCB) for the tip!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Observations: Kindle meets iPhone -- what about printing?

Observations: Kindle meets iPhone, What About Printing?

We’ve seen a great deal of Kindle e-book excitement, starting the week after Ground Hog’s day (February 9th) and Amazon’s announcement of the long-anticipated Kindle Two. That activity led to a massive PR campaign featuring Amazon (NASDAQ AMZN) Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who seemingly appeared everywhere, including the CNBC financial news channel (where his legendary laugh had to help at least a little bit during these harrowing times) to Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.

Bezos proffers the idea that Kindle’s “purpose-driven” design (something I believe we formerly referred to as “an appliance” and a “dedicated device”) will win out over e-book reading done on more general-purpose machines such as a laptop, netbook, or smart phone. And I believe he has a point. When I reported on the first Kindle in this column, just over a year ago (see "Amazon's Kindle Stirs Up E-book (and Printing and Imaging) Excitement"), I praised Amazon’s discipline in developing a machine that was specially designed for one sole purpose—as an e-book reader. With Kindle Two, that discipline continues, with the usual better/faster/smaller improvements we have come to expect in technology (note that I did not include cheaper).

However, despite Amazon’s commitment to the purpose-driven machine, it also just announced a “free” Apple (NASDAQ AAPL) iPhone reader that became available on March 4. (“Free” is relative, of course, as Amazon’s motive is the sale of electronic books.) While this action may seem like a concession or at least a compromise by Bezos and his company, it is interesting that some analysts see the iPhone reader as Apple giving in to accept the Kindle reader as an iPhone application.

Of course Apple, through its iTunes distribution hub, has go/no-go control over what iPhone applications become available. And by granting Amazon distribution through iTunes, Apple gives access to those millions of iPhone customers who suddenly become a new market for Amazon’s online bookstore of 240,000 (and growing) titles.

At the time of the December 2007 Kindle launch, I made the case that e-books were part of the larger printing and imaging world, and any excitement around a new e-book reader was, by definition, excitement coming the way of our industry generally and should be embraced. This time around I am not so sure.

The confluence of Kindle and iPhone has certainly set off some debate over which is the superior platform from the perspective of user experience and market potential. However, the voice of those arguing about the need to print e-book content (at least snippets), from either side, seems to be much quieter than previously or is at least muted by the other stories and interest surrounding the new products.

One of those stories has been a threat over lawsuits regarding the new Kindle’s audio capability, which led to Amazon’s recent retreat in this area. The gist of the argument is that spoken word books, even with the spoken words generated on-the-fly by the computer processor in the Kindle, were not covered by the copyright license owners of the printed word (i.e. Kindle owners who purchase $9.99 digital titles from Amazon), and that the audio stream was in violation of the copyright of the audiobook rights, which were not covered by the $9.99 license.

And while we had a flurry of interest around Apple iPhone printing applications at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009, led by HP’s (NYSE HPQ) entry (see "iPhone Printing boom"), the applications by HP and others were almost exclusively focused on photo printing, with little attention (or apparently demand) for textual printing.

Some interest in printing makes it through the ether, as users seek help in printing from Kindles and related devices, and there is always a chance that a growing base of users will find direct printing is a latent need to be addressed by aspiring printing-and-imaging-industry types. But even then there are digital rights issue that some would say are at the heart of the non-enablement of printing by Amazon and others (parallel to the audiobook issue noted above, but this time with Amazon on the other side).

For example, from a comment on the Web site ebookdaily.com, responding to a short post offering a user tip that printing from the Kindle is possible by routing selected content through the Kindle’s “My Clippings” feature:
You can copy parts of a physical book with a photocopier. You can also photocopy Kindle pages (really, you can!). You can’t, however, copy the whole thing in either case. Printing direct from Kindle would make it too easy to make physical copies of books, and that lies well outside Fair Use.

So, some interest in printing from the Kindle remains, and workarounds will come to the fore, but linking the growth of e-books and a corresponding growth in printing may be one of those areas where a few optimists proclaim the opportunity, but most users just read more electronically.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

TechCrunch reports: Major Book Publishers Start Turning To Scribd


Scribd, a company covered here multiple times in the past and most completely in my May 2008 "The YouTube for Documents" , is the subject of a TechCrunch update, Major Book Publishers Start Turning To Scribd.

Exciting news and thanks, TechCrunch!

Demo 2009 Hard Copy Update

This Demo 2009 update also appears in the March 2009 edition of The Hard Copy Observer.

Demo 2009 Reflects Economic and Environmental Issues

Like all recent industry activities such as conferences and trade shows, the Demo 2009 conference, held from March 1-3 in Palm Desert, CA, offered evidence of the sagging economy. The show’s 19th annual Spring event (a newer Demo Fall plus international versions also exist) hosted about 500 attendees, sponsors, exhibitors, press, and analysts, down from its more typical 700+, and the 39 exhibitors were a significantly smaller group than the previous and more typical 60+.

While never a printing and imaging show, per se, the Observer has covered Demo in recent years, just in case an interesting product or service shows its face. The biggest “direct hit” in the recent past, showing at Demo 2007, was the Zink “zero ink” printer prototype (Observer, 3/07), but that was an exception. Usually, a few of the exhibiting companies offer something that is related to printing in a somewhat less direct way.

500-Year Old Innovator

This year’s most notable print-oriented solution belonged to one of the sponsoring companies, and not one of the 39 exhibitors per se. Canson, a 500+ year-old French paper company, launched its digital pen solution, dubbed PaperShow, earlier in 2009, thus disqualifying the firm from consideration for “exhibitor” status, which requires an actual launch from the stage of the Demo show.

But as a show sponsor, Canson and PaperShow had more than ample exposure. The solution bears much resemblance to the Livescribe Pulse Smartpen digital pen, which was one of the highlights of Demo 2008 (Observer, 4/08) but has a few important and interesting differences.

Like Livescribe, the PaperShow’s underlying pattern-recognition technology is provided by Anoto, a Swedish firm that has relationships with a number of printing and imaging companies, such as Hitachi, HP, Matsushita, and Oki. Different target markets are one of the key differences between the two digital pen solutions.

With the Pulse Smartpen’s audio recording capabilities, Livescribe is targeting its digital pen solution at college students who need to record written notes and live lectures and then combine them in an organized way.

Canson is focusing its PaperShow solution at business and education environments where collaboration and interaction are required. The product is initially available at Staples for $199.99, including the pen and a USB Bluetooth key, which provides the communications interface for the required host PC.

Unlike the Livescribe solution, which features the option to “print your own” Anoto-patterned paper, the PaperShow solution has a different way to involve users’ printers. The PaperShow Web site describes the printing side of the Canson solution as follows: “Print your PowerPoint slideshow on Papershow printer paper and use it when giving your presentation to enable annotation and audience interaction.”
For the business and education markets that have been dependent on conventional PowerPoint presentations for a generation, this new approach is interesting but may be a bit challenging to explain and difficult to sell without thorough demonstration efforts.

Another appearance at Demo 2009 was by a previous Demo exhibitor and subject of the Observer: Blurb (Observer, 3/06). CEO Eileen Gittins returned to the event three years later to sit on a panel for CEOs of prospering Demo-launching companies. She reported the San Francisco-based firm reached $30 million in revenue and is profitable with its focused approach to selling the benefits of hard-copy, custom-printed books.

The conference’s own changes in printing may have been the most interesting print-related element of Demo 2009 beyond the Canson Papershow solution and Blurb. Based on “green” and no doubt related cost concerns, Demo 2009 replaced its traditional commercially-printed, often stylish and artful program guide with “basic black”—a functional monochrome set of pages that were stapled but not duplexed and appeared to have been printed on a traditional office laser printer or MFP.

As CNET reporter Dan Terdiman pointed out in an online article at the beginning of the show, those old bound conference guides, elegant as they were, were also difficult to recycle and most likely hit the dumpster in the days or weeks following the conference. Demo relegated the attendee list, which was in recent years included in the conference attendee bag as an office-printed and stapled multi-page document, to a Web-only existence, as the Demo Web site continues to grow and broaden in its capabilities.

Our View

Overall, Demo 2009 was smaller and less grandiose in its approach compared to previous years. The economy clearly has affected all industries, startups and entrepreneurs in particular. But the show’s ever-present positive spirit continued to make itself felt, despite this year’s gloomy environment.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Periodic Font Table


For long-time printer industry players like me and I am guessing, many of my readers, the developed acquaintance with the world of typefaces has been a beneficial by-product. Knowing the history and purpose behind many of the fonts we've come to know and love adds color and interest to the business.

Kudos to design firm Squidspot for coming up with the table, and thanks Lifehacker for the explanatory blog post, "Periodic Table of Typefaces Schools You on Fonts". And thanks for @PrinterNews and their tweet sending me to the post.

And check out the comments below the blog post at Lifehacker -- pity the poor soul who asked about Arial and its absence!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Onion: Area Man Prepares For Risky 20-Page Stapling, WED, MAR 11 2009

So with the recent "blogger blogging about blogging" indulgence, it seemed like a good time for a quick humor break -- Document finishing makes it to The Onion.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Twitter complements blogging

I've received minimal, but positive, feedback on my post from a few days back on my own nascent approach to integrated Twitter and my more established Blogging activities. In a confirming post from Darren Rowse at ProBlogger, "Blogging vs Twitter: A Few Random Thoughts on the Two Mediums". Great piece and thanks @lanceulanoff for the tweet.

I'll leave it to interested readers to get to the Problogger post, and I'll leave it at that -- nothing I hate more than too much of bloggers blogging about blogging (but it does come up once in awhile!).

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 bmighty.com 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.

Interesting!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Happy Twittering

I received a gratifying response from many readers on my February 27th post, "Do we need printer industry tweets?", and have become a follower of the many Twitterers suggested to me, as well as many I have found otherwise.

I also got my chance to micro-blog at the Demo 2009 conference earlier this week. And I believe I've determined a priority/hierarchy for my social networking activities. So at the risk of exposing myself as a naif (but hey I already have done that!) here goes: 1) Jim Lyons Observations (what you're reading now) is my printer-industry notebook of events and musings, including my monthly columns for The Hard Copy Observer, (column of the same JLO name), with little or no personal info beyond the printer industry; 2) Twitter (jflyons) is my related micro-blogging site, with the same domain interests as JLO, mostly nerdy printer stuff with minimal personal; 3) LinkedIn (Jim Lyons) is my business-contact site, which I keep active and enjoy the benefits of an expanding network of colleagues from my job-, industry-, and education-related communities; and 4) Facebook is just for fun, strictly personal, and not linked directly to the previous three. As I've determined I'm not interested in this social networking activity overlapping with the others, I have disconnected my Twitter feed from my Facebook page, and anticipate having a never-very-large group of Facebook Friends.

Does this make sense, anyone?

And also in the spirit of being a true naif, I am taking the crude-but-effective step of cutting and pasting my Demo2009 Tweets here, as they make a nice compliment to my actual (macro?) blog posts from the conference, as well as my column coming up in the March Observer which will be published here too.

Kudos too, D-God friend Coveroo. + my iPhone work! http://tinyurl.com/bow6oy
6:21 PM Mar 3rd from web
Catching up on Demo Gods after leaving a bit early for Wed am appts. Pleased, two for two on my (limited) predictions, Avaak and Ontier.
6:08 PM Mar 3rd from web
@Rafe Sorry to hear, you've had it coming and going. Great job during Demo loved, really enjoyed your tweets.
6:04 PM Mar 3rd from web in reply to Rafe
Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki, best startup book ever per Joel Bomgar of Demo CEO panel. Sync up company and product name too.
12:07 PM Mar 3rd from web
Great quote by Eileen Gittins CEO of Blurb -- scarcity drives good decisions.
11:58 AM Mar 3rd from web
Is it ironic that Blurb, bookmaking service (physical books), has never spent a dime on print advertising? Great comments on focus.
11:43 AM Mar 3rd from web
Blurb bookmaking is addictive and viral -- emotionally powerful. "Make your customers cry...for good reasons". Make customers evangelists.
11:42 AM Mar 3rd from web
Symantec's MyGuru Demo impresses in its market/customer orientation -- helping both PC user (of a certain competence range), and the helper!
10:52 AM Mar 3rd from web
A printer in a Demo2009 booth! See my post, http://tinyurl.com/ccbmer.
9:34 PM Mar 2nd from web
Qualcomm's mirasol MEMS display technology -- low power, excellent viewing in a range of lighting environments for phones and other? Ebooks?
5:26 PM Mar 2nd from web
Investors (at least Eric Tilenius) likes companies that think in terms of their customers, not their products-q relative to client-side apps
4:19 PM Mar 2nd from web
Mixbook mentioned as a company succeeding, growing out of Angel stage. Required switching away from Facebook-based photobooks to other.
4:00 PM Mar 2nd from web
VC Panel at Demo -- Wow. Numbers of deals as bleak as any other market number.
3:54 PM Mar 2nd from web
Bingo -- I could almost call that Coveroo device a printer! (And "laser" and "dpi" were mentioned on stage; we're getting there.)
3:11 PM Mar 2nd from web
@Demo09 Thanks for the tip on the Wifi.
12:42 PM Mar 2nd from web in reply to Demo09
Good summary on the pay-to-play status of Demo and its fit w economy. http://tinyurl.com/c5zenq
9:02 AM Mar 2nd from web
Demo2009 report, first night reception -- numbers may be low but spirits are high!
8:24 PM Mar 1st from web

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Xerox (NYSE XRX) -- Most Admired Computer Company, per Fortune Magazine

While much of the world of high tech was focused in on major conferences and trade shows like TED, Demo, and PMA, Fortune magazine released its most-admired companies listing. And it contains what must be considered by some at least, some surprises.

Xerox Corporation (NYSE XRX) is ranked Number One in the "computer company" category. (See "Xerox Ranked Number One in Computer Industry by FORTUNE’s Most Admired Companies Survey".) They even beat out Apple (NASDAQ APPL), the #1 most admired company overall, in the computer company category. HP (NYSE HPQ) is #3 this year in the category, and the others follow as shown in the table.

Most Admired
Rank Company Overall score
1 Xerox 7.28
2 Apple 7.07
3 Hewlett-Packard 7.04
4 Canon 6.05
5 Sun Microsystems 5.92
6 Dell 5.62
7 Ricoh 5.23
8 Fujitsu 4.92
9 NEC 4.86
10 Lenovo Group 4.77
11 Asustek Computer 4.21
12 Quanta Computer 3.79


Source, Fortune Magazine.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

DPI at Demo, provided by Coveroo


It's a rare day when "DPI" or "dots per inch" is mentioned in a six-minute Demo presentation, but that's what happened during Day One's presentation by Karl Jacob, CEO of San Francisco's Coveroo. And while the reference was not directly about a printer, per se, it does involve a laser etching system that's close enough to get this printer industry veteran to take notice.

The company provides custom engraving for smart phones and their ilk, or in the words of the Demo2009 guide:
Coveroo makes your personal electronics truly personal. A Coveroo replaces the original back cover on your mobile device or MP3 player with a custom version featuring a laser-engraved artwork from your favorite band, TV show, movie or artist. We have hundreds of designs – from Barbie to Bart Simpson – or you can upload your own artwork. Coveroos are made using a high quality engraving process so they don't fade or wear like skins or stickers.

That high-quality engraving system is a 1200-dpi laser system, as seen in the illustration above. The equipment suppliers to Coveroo include Epilog Laser and Universal Laser, and the appeal of the personalized gadget was evident by the crowds at Coveroo's Demo exhibit. Interesting, too, that while Coveroo stands out uniquely with its physical manifestation of personalization, many of the Demo2009 companies featured personalization in other forms, as in personalized search, personalized shopping, etc.

The Coveroo products are no secret in the enthusiast world, btw. Crackberry.com has promoted online contests for free Coveroo engraving, with thousands of online entries.

Thanks to Coveroo's Keith Jacob and Danny Flores for their assistance, and especially my own newly personalized iPhone!

And photo credit to Caroline Traylor of Porter Novelli, thanks Caroline!

Welcome back to Demo, Blurb!

The final session of Demo2009's last morning is a panel, moderated by Chris Shipley, with the theme "Leading Capital Efficient Companies". It features four CEOs from previous Demo-launching companies, one of whom is Eileen Gittens of Blurb.

Following their appearance three years ago (Demo2006), Blurb is now up to $30 million in revenues, and reporting many good things are happening, including being profitable! The company has a special place in the heart of this blogger, as their launch and the excitement surrounding it -- including gaining "DemoGod" status -- made for great material in one of my first columns for The Hard Copy Observer, as well as one of the first posts to this blog. (see "A Tale of Two Conferences: Lyra Symposium and Demo 2006".)

Gittins talked about the devlopment of their global print network, that I convered in that column. Advantages include never actually touching the product (book), thus no inventory, no cost of goods, etc., just as they spelled out for me in preparing that early column. Success has depended on dedication to a few key concepts like quality, metrics, and hiring of a few, but very senior people.

BTW Gittins was joined on the panel by Joel Bomgar, Founder & CEO, Bomgar Corporation; Paul Pluschkell, Founder & CEO, Spigit; and Dr. Wade W. Ren, Chairman, Founder & CEO, Diigo.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Yes Virginia, there are printers at Demo2009!


Please forgive me for the headline of this post, but as a long-time (decade-and-a-half) Demo conference attendee, sometimes it does feel a little bit like getting a glimpse of Santa when an actual printer shows up at this famed technology conference!

While I've been coming for the last 15 years, first as an employee with a printing industry leader, and more recently as a reporter/blogger covering the business, the mission has never been to find the latest and greatest new hard copy device (though there are exceptions, see "Zinking in from Demo2007"). It's more about the broader technology field, and what trends and developments might help, or hurt, the printing and imaging field. (And again, I have several of those from Demo2009 yet to be analyzed, so readers, please check back for over the next day or two.)

But it's still a bit of a pleasure when a printer shows up in one of the exhibits. In this case (see photo, lower left hand corner), it's in Booth#17, Home-Account Inc, a company demo'ing their solution to "help America’s 75 million homeowners take control of their largest assets and use them to insure their financial security, likely saving hundreds of dollars per month in the process."

I have yet to have a personal conversation with the company, so stay tuned. But it figures that this application area, home mortgages, needs hard copy, and thus the HP (NYSE HPQ) LaserJet as part of their demonstration!

A greener Demo means good news for toner-based printing/copying

Dan Terdiman (GreeterDan) of CNET has a piece (see "In search of a greener conference (and products)") on the new, greener Demo conference including a Tweeter photo (see above) of the conference documentation.
Share photos on twitter with Twitpic
This year, the commercially-printed, often stylish and artful program guide has been replaced with "basic black" -- functional monochrome output (stapled but NOT duplexed) either laser printed or copied (though we know that distinction is disappearing, and I will be following up on the output device). This is the kind of evolution that printer companies like HP (NYSE HPQ) are targeting for growing or at least maintaining pages printed, with traditional typeset jobs moving in-house to office printers and MFPs. And as Terdiman points out, it's part of a green movement as well, because those old bound conference guides, as elegant as they were, most likely hit the dumpster in the days or weeks following the conference.

And the other side of that evolution (or more accurately the next stage of the continuum)? The attendee list, which was in recent years an office-printed and -stapled multi-page inclusion in the conference attendee bag, has now migrated to a Web-only existence, as the Demo Website continues to grow and broaden in its capabilities.

Ouch! Gartner predicts worst PC annual drop ever -- printers to follow?

Greetings from the JW Marriott resort in Palm Desert, CA. The opening sessions of the Demo 2009 conference are about to begin, with the familiar feeling of excitement brewing, despite the economic anxiety of the day.

Speaking of which, in addition to the usual stunning financial headlines that seem to come with every new morning, the Gartner Group is out with a PC forecast and it's not pretty. (See "PC shipments to suffer worst decline in history: Gartner"). The consultants are calling for a 12% decline in unit sales in 2009, compared to 2008, with the Netbooks category providing a bit of upside relief. Of course, with the printer market leader HP reporting a 19% unit shortfall, quarter to quarter, just 10 days ago (see "HP (NYSE HPQ) Printer Metrics"), a 12% drop may look good!