June 18, 2007
HP Executive Vincent Ferraro Discusses HP's Past, Present, and Future
By Databazaar Blog
Printer Pundits: Vincent Ferraro on HP's Market Leadership, Greatest Challenge, Green Initiatives, USB Cables, and More
Vincent Ferraro (Vince) joined HP's imaging and printing group in 1983 at the dawn of the laser printer era. Today he serves as VP of Worldwide Marketing for HP's LaserJet Business Unit. Previously, he served as VP of Category Marketing for HP's Business Imaging and Printing Unit. He has also worked in HP's PC and server businesses. In September 2006, Vince launched The HP LaserJet Blog on HP's Web site, which quickly gained a following among LaserJet users, particularly those who manage them on corporate computer networks. We would like to thank Vince for taking time out of his busy schedule to participate in Printer Pundit Week, which we're using to kick off our new Printer Pundits feature. Our questions and his answers appear below.
Databazaar Blog: Given developments like the Edgeline, will inkjet printers someday replace laser printers in the office?
Vincent Ferraro: That is certainly not our intention. The new Edgeline products are positioned above the current LaserJet family of products in terms of price and performance. HP is extremely lucky that we have both ink and laser technologies at our disposal. We can use both technologies synergistically to meet our customers' business printing needs. Edgeline is also a proof point that inkjet technology is ready for the office.
Databazaar Blog: HP continues to dominate the printer market despite increased competition? How does it manage this feat? What is HP's greatest challenge?
Vincent Ferraro: I think there are number of factors that have driven our market leadership. I believe we continually innovate and build great products that have a superior customer experience. We started the desktop laser category in the early 80's and there is tremendous LaserJet brand and awareness and preference, breadth and depth of our distribution, sales, and marketing worldwide.
Our greatest challenge is to continue to grow. Imaging and Printing is a $26.7 Billion (2006 financials) group in HP. We need to be innovative and be creative to grow from this large base. We have broad investments in enterprise, small business, and consumer markets. We are investing in printer solutions like MFP, in-house marketing, and in new emerging markets like China and Russia. It is not just about price, which for some of my competition is the only lever they can pull. It is about meeting customers' business needs in the solutions, services, and products they buy from us.
Databazaar Blog: Why has no manufacturer ever dared to include printer cables with its machines?
Vincent Ferraro: We get that feedback a lot (LOL)! Customers would definitely like a USB cable with their printer, especially in the home and small business markets. Unfortunately, the printer market is very competitive. For the most part, customers have traditionally not been willing to pay for the extra value of the printer cable in the box. That is my take on the issue.
Databazaar Blog: What is the most valuable lesson you have learned at HP?
Vincent Ferraro: Always be humble, satisfy you customers and the business will follow — and have a healthy paranoia about your competition.
Databazaar Blog: Your blog post on HP's Universal Print Driver (New HP Universal Print Driver solves Vista Printing Problems for LaserJets) generated a lot of interest. Will this driver eventually replace individual drivers or is it just a short-term solution for those upgrading to Vista? How would you feel about a universal driver for all printers period — perhaps overseen by a standards consortium?
Vincent Ferraro: This driver is already replacing discrete printer drivers. UPD is not a short term Vista strategy but a fundamental change in our printer driver architecture. One driver that "pings" the printer, finds out what the printer is, and configures itself to the specific features of that printer. In an enterprise environment, the cost savings generated by reducing the need and cost for print servers, support, driver installation and deployment is significant.
HP's UPD is a proprietary technology for HP printers. Our strategy in contrast with our competitors who say they have a universal print driver, but in reality just ship one CD with all of the various printer-specific drivers on the disc. It is not the same thing.
Databazaar Blog: HP has unveiled a number of environmental initiatives with regard to its printer business in the last few months (e.g., the new packaging for cartridges). How do these moves fit into HP's overall business strategy?
Vincent Ferraro: We are making lots of investments in making our printers more environmentally friendly and green. It is a major corporate strategy for HP to develop products that are more environmentally friendly. For example, we have our Planet Partners program which recycles toner and inkjet cartridges. Our products are RoHS compliant, meaning we do not use lead in the soldering process any more. Our Instant-on technology allows our products to produce prints fast from "sleep mode," thus saving energy. We default to duplex on in our printers for two sided printing. This is in addition to the supplies packaging example you mentioned. I think I will expand more on this in my blog in the future.
Databazaar Blog: Which printers do you personally use at home and work and why?
Vincent Ferraro: Working at HP, I am spoiled I suppose. On my desk I have a Color LaserJet 2600, I also have Color LaserJet 4600dn and monochrome MFP on the network. At home, I use a wireless inkjet Photosmart AiO and a Photosmart printer. I also have HP 12C calculator, HP iPAQ PDA for mobile email and Internet access, and HP R927 digital camera.
About Printer Pundits
We spend most of our time here at Databazaar Blog on printer gear, but this impressive technology doesn't just appear by magic. With Printer Pundits, we bring you interviews with some of the luminaries in the printer industry — senior executives, analysts, journalists, inventors, and others. Of course, in today's world everyone is a pundit so please share your insights below.