Printer Pundits
April 10, 2008

Catching Up with HP's Vyomesh Joshi, the Ultimate Printer Pundit

By Anne Rutherford

Printer Pundits: HP's Top Printer Executive Sees Lots of Printing Opportunities Even as the World Becomes More Digitized

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It's your birthday in the year 2012. You receive a birthday card from your best friend. But it's not like any card you've ever seen. When you open it, you're holding a YouTube video printed on an HP printer. Welcome to HP's vision of the future as expressed by Vyomesh Joshi, Executive Vice President of HP's Imaging and Printing Group.

Joshi, known as "VJ" in the industry, is a man on a mission, speaking around the world about the future of printing — "Print 2.0" as he likes to call it. HP's Imaging and Printing Group is a $26 billion business (larger than most entire companies in the Fortune 500) so when Joshi speaks, people listen. Us included. Below we report on Joshi's recent media appearances.

Laser What?

"You have two choices with what to do with Web content," Joshi told John Battelle who interviewed him in October 2007 at the Web 2.0 Summit. "You can either view content or you can print it." Joshi says it is inevitable that publishing will go the way of the music and photo industry — completely digital, transforming books, magazines, and newspapers. And, predicts Joshi, "in 10 years, everything will be printed by inkjet printers," 70% of it from Web applications.

For example, in Victoria Shannon's International Herald Tribune article, Hewlett-Packard Shifts Strategy on Printers, Joshi discusses how his two daughters in college would love the ability to print Web-based profiles of all their friends at the end of the year as a keepsake — sort of like a custom yearbook. "That could be a very powerful way to document and chronicle their social connections during their year at Berkeley," he said.

A Lousy 1.8%

Today, HP owns about 46% of the printer market share, but Joshi measures true penetration not by how many printers HP has installed around the world (approximately a billion, he thinks), but by how many actual pages people print.

"The actual number of actual pages printed in the world is 50 trillion but we have only 1.8% — a lousy 1.8% as I call it — of that market," observed Joshi in a February 28, 2008 interview by Joyce Kim and Chris Albrecht on the GigaOm Show. And only 10% of that 50 trillion is digital, he notes. Joshi says HP can double its business by capturing "another lousy 1.8%."

Joshi has worked at HP for over 27 years, working his way to the executive suite of the legendary Palo-Alto-based company from the company's research and development wing. HP has been the worldwide market leader in printing since introducing its first inkjet and LaserJet printers in 1984. The company has sold more than 300 million inkjet printers since then and, in 2006, shipped its 100 millionth LaserJet printer.

HP's Printing-Related Acquisitions

Joshi wants to see a print icon on every Web page and blog that would give readers what he called a "template-based experience." HP has actually bought such technology — Tabblo — as we reported last year. Likewise, HP is creating widgets for blogs so that you don't have to print 150 pages of comments when all you want is one. The company has started working with the trend-setting blog BoingBoing.

HP also owns photo sharing Snapfish. Though lagging behind Flickr and other competitors, it has still increased its user base fivefold. LogoWorks, an online stationery store for small businesses, is another example of HP's new focus.

Furthermore, as reported by Mike Freeman in his Union-Tribune article, San Diego Facility Creates Web Press, HP recently announced its "Web Press" device, which enables publishers to send their pages electronically over the Internet to multiple locations rather than printing large volumes in one location and then trucking them to readers and stores. While announced in March, HP says it won't be available to customers until 2009.

Joshi insists that all of these ventures are completely consistent with HP's core business strategy. "Our business model is very simple: Print," he has said in interviews." Joshi and HP don't care what people print, they just want to make sure an HP solution exists for every possible scenario.

What About that Other Silicon Valley Icon Down the Road?

Joshi has served on Yahoo's board of directors since 2005. And as you may have heard, Yahoo is the lead business story these days. Will it become part of Microsoft? Will it become a Google affiliate? Unfortunately, Joshi isn't saying much about Yahoo though he did tell Battelle that he doesn't see online advertising as a good fit for HP. "There's too many people who want to be in that business." But as to what Yahoo plans to do? That he won't say. Probably not even if he had a video greeting card in which to do so.

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 and stories about 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.

September 06, 2007

Printer Pundits on the Industry's Biggest Breakthroughs Past, Present, and Future

By Taeho Lim

Printers Have Come a Long Way, and Have a Long Way to Go

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Recently, we discussed how far the printer has progressed since Guttenberg introduced the first movable-type press in 1450. From daisywheel technology to high-speed color MFPs, consumers and businesses have more ways than ever to put their ideas onto paper. We asked our Printer Pundits about the industry's biggest breakthroughs and what the future holds as we head into the new millennium.

When it comes to breakthroughs, the Pundits agree that increased competition has lowered the price for supplies. Inkjet expert Andy Lippman points to the growth of re-manufactured ink cartridges, third party supplies, and ink refilling as an important force. In his opinion, the "aftermarket has thrived for the last couple of years and OEMs now see them as a serious threat." In addition, Lippman sees the potential for other manufacturers to follow HP and Epson into emerging markets by offering lower ink prices.

Toner expert Art Diamond sees a similar trend, observing that prices for color toners have dropped "due to a growing list of reliable sources." He also points to the 30 toner plants that recently opened in China as another interesting development that could fuel competition in the future.

On the other hand, Lippman points out that the prospect of a "general exclusion order" prohibiting imported Epson compatible cartridges could strike a "huge blow for the aftermarket" and "would make the cost of importing non-OEM Epson cartridges prohibitively expensive and practically end the trade in the U.S."

PC Magazine Contributing Editor M. David Stone and Lippman also point to the rapidly rising bar when it comes to print quality and speed. Stone adds that "[n]oisy impact printers (daisywheel and dot matrix) have been almost universally replaced by quiet printers (laser and inkjet) in the office," while Lippman says that pagewide inkjet arrays "offer giant leaps in inkjet print speeds. Inkjet now has the potential to enter high-volume markets including office, retail, and commercial sectors."

As for the future, Lippman, Diamond, and industry expert Jim Lyons agree that Memjet will have a serious impact when it hits the market. Lippman says "[i]t's only once (maybe twice) in an industry's lifetime that you see a secretive, no-name company unveil a groundbreaking technology and business model" while Lyons sees Memjet as part of an encouraging rise in competition that includes HP's Edgeline, Zink, and Kodak's EasyShare All-in-One.

Both Diamond and Lippman also see printer manufacturers looking to get more environmentally conscious in the wake of stringent new Energy Star certification requirements and expansive environmental controls over recycling of electronic equipment in Europe.

Again, we want to thank our Printer Pundits for their input on the biggest breakthroughs in the printing industry. In the end, only time will tell us whether their predictions for the future will ring prophetic.

About Databazaar Blog
Virtually everyone who uses a computer uses a printer. But computers get all the glory. So we launched this blog to give printers their due. We hope you find our coverage enjoyable and useful, and encourage you to subscribe and participate.

August 31, 2007

Which Printers Do the Pros Prefer?

By Taeho Lim

Printer Pundits Disclose the Printers They Use at Home and at Work

Remember when Mars Blackmon explained Michael Jordan's prowess on the basketball court by exclaiming "It's gotta be the shoes"? Endorsements have played a pivotal role in marketing all kinds of products, from Air Jordans to Wheaties. But while a pair of Air Jordans probably won't make you an All-Star, a good printer can definitely increase your productivity and save you time and money. Our Printer Pundits know the printing industry inside and out so who better to look to for some printer buying advice.

While PC Magazine Contributing Editor M. David Stone declined to endorse any brands, he tells us that "everything [he's] bought for home or office has been a laser unless it's for photos."

Inkjet expert Andy Lippman uses the HP PSC 1510 inkjet all-in-one at home for its "lower-priced cartridges" despite its "relatively high price-per-page" but does most of his printing at the office on an HP Laserjet 4250.

While toner pioneer Art Diamond doesn't print at home, he uses an HP LaserJet 3380 MFP to print, copy, and fax at the office. For his bookkeeping computer, his HP LaserJet Series IID does just fine and he reports that it "continues to run well."

At home, industry expert Jim Lyons uses an HP LaserJet 2550 for his marketing materials and an HP LaserJet 1320 for everything else, referring to the latter as "the workhorse in [his] home office." Lyons likes to use Snapfish/Walgreen's connection for photos because it's "cheaper and, more importantly, far less hassle" than owning a photo printer.

At the office, he uses an HP LaserJet 1020 for its "crisp, fast prints" and an HP PSC 1410 All-in-One for its "color and copying versatility."

Finally, and not surprisingly, HP LaserJet executive Vincent Ferraro has a Color LaserJet 2600 on his desk, a Color LaserJet 4600dn connected to his network, and a Photosmart AiO and a Photosmart printer at home.

See any common themes here? Yep. HP models get a ringing endorsement, given their widespread presence in the Pundits' homes and offices. Of course, the industry has a lot of other capable brands to choose from, depending on your needs. Whichever model you choose, keep in mind the important lesson we learned nearly 20 years ago from the Air Jordan: if the shoe fits, wear it.

About Databazaar Blog
Virtually everyone who uses a computer uses a printer. But computers get all the glory. So we launched this blog to give printers their due. We hope you find our coverage enjoyable and useful, and encourage you to subscribe and participate.

June 22, 2007

PC Magazine Contributing Editor M. David Stone Closes Out Printer Pundit Week With Panache

By Databazaar Blog

Printer Pundits: M. David Stone on the Inkjet Versus Laser Debate, Impact of Memjet, Prognosis for Dell's Printer Division, and More

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Name a major product or technology in the imaging industry and you can bet that M. David Stone has covered it top to bottom. After 25 years, more than 4,000 articles, and a dozen books, this award-winning journalist and consultant has developed a well-deserved reputation as one of the imaging industry's most respected experts.

David works at PC Magazine as a Contributing Editor and Lead Analyst for Printers, Scanners, and Projectors. He also writes for other publications, including Wired. His breadth of knowledge and clear, engaging style receive high marks from casual readers and industry experts alike. After reading the interview below, you should make a beeline for David's recent PC Magazine cover story, Buying Guide: More Printer For The Price, as well as the companion piece, The Future of Ink Jet Printing?, his in-depth analysis of Memjet.

David's interview constitutes the fifth installment of our new Printer Pundits feature. We couldn't have asked for a better ending for Printer Pundit Week. We thank David and hope all of you have enjoyed these interviews.

Databazaar Blog: Will inkjet printers someday replace laser printers in the office?

M. David Stone: A provocative question. (But you can just as easily ask if lasers will someday replace inkjets at home.) As both technologies stand today, each has some advantages over the other, with lasers having the clear edge overall.

That said, there are plenty of examples of one technology taking over from another even if it doesn't match it on all fronts. I've yet to see any printer — not even the old, noisy daisywheel printers — that can match the text quality of a Selectric typewriter with a carbon ribbon. But switching to computers gave so many advantages over using a typewriter that there was no contest.

Likewise, early laser printers didn't have the same quality as daisywheel printers — the output looked like poor quality, third generation copies. But they were so much faster and — probably more importantly — so much quieter, that daisywheel printers didn't have a chance.

So the question really boils down to whether inkjets can give us features that lasers can't, somewhere down the road, and whether offices will be willing to give up some of the strengths of lasers to get those features.

Today's inkjets' only real advantage over lasers is that they're better at photos. That's not important in most offices, and lasers are closing that gap in any case. Lasers on the other hand have lots of advantages.

Lasers as a group are faster. HP's Edgeline printers and the Memjet prototype printers demonstrate that inkjets can catch up on this score, but lasers at any given price are getting faster too. It remains to be seen whether actual products based on inkjet technology will close the gap compared to lasers in the same price range.

Even if inkjets catch up in speed, there's still a quality issue. Lasers let you use almost any quality paper — from cheap copier paper to more expensive laser paper — without worrying about things like the paper curling from too much ink on the page or the color or sharpness of edges being affected from being absorbed by the paper.

A related issue is water resistance. Unless you use special paper, ink smudges if it gets wet. That can easily happen if, for example, you're drinking an iced coffee at your desk and there's condensation on the glass. Pick up the glass, turn the page, and you suddenly have a smudged document.

The point is that lasers can give you more professional looking output with less expensive paper. I don't see inkjet technology catching up on this score any time soon, and I don't see any advantages inkjets can offer to outweigh this disadvantage. On the other hand "someday" is a long way away, so I won't say it will never happen.

Databazaar Blog: If Silverbrook openly licenses its Memjet technology as currently planned, what impact, if any, will that have on the major players in the industry?

M. David Stone: I'm not sure anyone knows the answer to this yet. It's going to depend a lot on when the actual Memjet products show up in the market and what they look like — how well they perform, how much they cost, how good their output quality is, and so on.

If they don't deliver on all their promises, today's big players may not be affected at all. On the other hand, if they do deliver, they'll make a big splash, and the major manufacturers will have to consider licensing the technology themselves — or rushing their own new technologies to market at competitive prices, faster than they had planned. It'll be interesting to watch.

Databazaar Blog: In your recent cover story, Buying Guide: More Printer For The Price, you listed two Dell printers that you like (Dell Photo All-In-One 966 and Dell Multifunction Color Laser Printer 3115cn). Dell entered the printer market late in the game. And other computer makers, such as Apple, departed years ago. What's your prognosis for Dell in this industry?

M. David Stone: I think that Dell has done a good job to this point of delivering quality printers. In some cases the Dell models have been better than similar models from the actual manufacturers, if only because of rewritten installation routines that improve on the original. In addition, based on my experience calling tech support, Dell seems to be better at actually giving support than many vendors I've dealt with (although I don't make enough calls to qualify as a statistically valid sampling). As long as those two things remain true, I think Dell will do just fine. (But keep in mind that this is coming from someone who never understood why Lotus 1-2-3 held the top spot for spreadsheets for so long.)

Databazaar Blog: Can you share with us some of the more interesting feedback you received about the buying guide from readers and perhaps manufacturers?

M. David Stone: Aside from Jim Lyons getting in touch to tell me that he liked the piece and had mentioned it in his blog, I haven't gotten much direct feedback, but I have noticed a distinct rise in the number of readers writing to me about their printer problems in general. I'm guessing they saw my name and decided I was the right person to write to.

Most of the letters refer to problems with ink prices and ink usage. Probably the most interesting — because it reflects people's assumptions about printers — are the ones that complain about using up color ink when almost everything they print is black and white. People really don't understand why the color ink disappears from house keeping functions or why inkjet and laser printers often wind up printing in composite black and using up their expensive color ink or toner. They also expect a "grayscale" choice in a driver to print in black only — which is true in some cases, but not all.

All this tells me that the industry needs to make an effort to educate users on the subject and make a point of including a "black only" option in drivers that's unambiguous and easy to find.

Databazaar Blog: What are the three biggest changes you've seen in the industry since you started covering printers?

M. David Stone: Coming up with a list of big changes is easy. Picking the three biggest is harder. Focusing on the technology, I'll go with:

1. Noisy impact printers (daisywheel and dot matrix) have been almost universally replaced by quiet printers (laser and inkjet) in the office.

2. High quality graphics, photos, and color have all gone from nearly non-existent to the expected norm.

3. We've all gotten spoiled about speed. An 8 page per minute laser printer was once considered a network printer and a 20 page per minute laser was blazingly fast. Now personal laser printers are north of 20 pages per minute.

Databazaar Blog: Which printer(s) do you use at home and at work?

M. David Stone: I do most of my work at home, so I have the luxury of using the same printers for both home and work. I won't mention brands, but ever since I graduated from daisywheel printers, probably 20 years ago, everything I've bought for home or office has been a laser unless it's for photos. I currently have a monochrome laser for printing faxes and emails, a color laser, a 4 by 6 inkjet photo printer, and a supertabloid size inkjet photo printer.

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.

June 21, 2007

Inkjet Expert Andy Lippman Discusses Memjet and the Coming Inkjet Printer Revolution

By Databazaar Blog

Printer Pundits: Andy Lippman on Whether Inkjet Will Overtake Laser, Memjet's Intel-Like Ambitions, Inkjet Cartridge Environmental and Legal Issues, and More

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Based on his extensive credentials, no one can deny that Andy Lippman has his finger on the pulse of the printer industry. He has worked at Lyra Research since 2004 as an Industry Analyst specializing in Ink Jet Supplies. His primary duties include tracking OEM and aftermarket strategies, conducting primary research, performing market sizing and forecasting, and attending industry events.

Speaking of trade shows, you can catch Andy on August 21, 2007 at Lyra's World Expo Preshow Conference, Supplies-Side Economics: What Inexpensive OEM Cartridges Mean to You. In the morning, Andy will present The Jet Set: Inside the Changing Ink Jet Market, and then participate on two panels in the afternoon. We thank Andy for bringing his expertise to Databazaar Blog during Printer Pundit Week. His interview below constitutes the fourth installment in our new Printer Pundits feature.

Databazaar Blog: Will inkjet printers someday replace laser printers in the office?

Andy Lippman: Yes, you will gradually see more and more inkjet based devices in offices. In fact, we currently estimate that about 25% to 35% of all desktop inkjet devices are installed in a business environment, whether it be a home office, small office, or workgroup unit.

But, I would not say that inkjets will replace laser printers. At this point, there are some strong advantages and disadvantages for both technologies. Laser print quality is widely accepted as a standard for text and graphic output (often called the "laser bias"). There are other trade-offs between laser and inkjet systems in terms of print speed, cost of operation, maintenance, text and graphics print quality, photo print quality, reliability, power consumption, color flexibility, hardware manufacturing, and consumables manufacturing.

HP's new enterprise inkjet MFP (CM8060/8050) is a significant first for many reasons, but it will take time for customers to get used to the idea of inkjet. Other OEMs are working to improve alternative inkjet technologies. Examples include the Xerox solid-ink Phaser and the Ricoh Gelsprinter. There's no doubt we'll continue to see innovations on both the inkjet and laser side.

Databazaar Blog: How does a product like Memjet really threaten the dominance of major players like HP, Epson, Lexmark, etc?

Andy Lippman: Memjet has the potential to reshape the printing industry on a number of different fronts. First, Memjet's page-wide array technology is a glimpse at the future of printing. The demonstrated price/performance ratio of the Memjet print head is off today's charts. The technology rivals, if not surpasses, anything that Canon or HP (inkjet R&D leaders) may have in their inkjet R&D labs.

Print speed is one thing, but the company's business model may be the biggest force. Memjet plans to license its patented print head, cartridge, ink, controller chip, and other technologies to a range of companies. The company aspires to be the Intel or Texas Instruments of the printing industry. For the home and office market, licensees could include Apple, Dell, Xerox, Ricoh, Sony, Panasonic, Sharp, Toshiba, and the list goes on.

Ultimately, it is cutting the price of ink that would make the largest impact on industry profitability. Memjet plans to throw out the razor and blades model and make money on both the printer and the ink supplies. The company believes that its licensees could sell ink for 5 to 10 times less than current OEM prices. A home printer could yield monochrome pages for just 1 cent each and a color pages about 3 cents. For office devices, cost per page figures would be even lower. Memjet also wants to encourage refilling by authorizing a network of third-party dealers.

Databazaar Blog: Which recent inkjet innovation are you most excited about? Is there anything in pipeline that you think will shake things up even more?

Andy Lippman: Memjet is definitely the one of the most exciting innovations to come around in a long time. It's only once (maybe twice) in an industry's lifetime that you see a secretive, no-name company unveil a groundbreaking technology and business model. Memjet is not without its detractors. Major players are rightly skeptical of whether Memjet can move its products out of the lab and into retail.It is possible that a major player could come out with a similar page-wide technology. With Canon's substantial R&D investment, we're likely to see an advancement from them.

Other industry rumblings include a possible "general exclusion order" for imported Epson compatible cartridges. This court ruling (handed down by the International Trade Commission) would mandate that no third-party Epson cartridge can be imported into the United States until it is proved that it does not infringe on any patents. A huge blow for the aftermarket, this would make the cost of importing non-OEM Epson cartridges prohibitively expensive and practically end the trade in the U.S.

Other developments include HP, Epson, and perhaps other manufacturers lowering ink costs in emerging markets. This is a expanding strategy for encouraging printing in nations that have a low per capita income.

Databazaar Blog: What are the three biggest changes you've seen in the industry since you started with Lyra?

Andy Lippman: From an inkjet perspective: 1. The growth of remanufactured cartridges, compatible cartridges, and ink refilling around the world. The aftermarket has thrived for the last couple of years and OEMs now see them as a serious threat. Printer manufacturers have responded with counter marketing, patent litigation, cartridge encryption, soft money, and recycling programs. We're beginning to see an open discussion on the cost of home printing and lower OEM ink prices in some cases.

2. The emergence of page-wide inkjet arrays. Long talked about, we are beginning to see larger and larger printheads which offer giant leaps in inkjet print speeds. Inkjet now has the potential to enter high-volume markets including office, retail, and commercial sectors.

3. Advancement of ink technology. Traditional dye-based inks continue to improve in terms of durability, color gamut, and efficiency. Pigment-based inks have come a long way for photo and office use. There are hundreds of other ink variations for office, commercial, and industrial applications. Inkjet inks that print at 100 ppm and materials like glass, metal, fabric, wood, and other media.

Databazaar Blog: European manufacturers are facing stiff environmental regulations. What effect do you think this will have on American manufacturers? Do you expect environmental concerns to hinder the industry in general?

Andy Lippman: You're right in general the EU has taken a lead in environmental policies as it relates to electronics power consumption and waste. In April 2007 the Energy Star 2 certification went into effect. While this is not a regulation, it is interesting to see that most inkjet printers do not pass the strict standards. In May, HP released a limited-edition printer, the Deskjet F4100, that qualifies for the new Energy Star label. In the wide-format inkjet market, some industrial-strength inks have been outlawed in Europe as well as in parts of the U.S. because of their emissions.

The printer market is of course global, so any regulations enacted in Europe affect American companies or ones that operate in the U.S.. This means that companies will have to build printers to be more efficient in terms of power consumption, packaging, and ink use. We'll continue to see cartridge-recycling options, which are already available from all major manufacturers. It's possible that manufacturers will be required to have a yield of at least 1,000 pages per ink cartridge. This might reduce plastic waste from cartridge containers.

As with any challenge, there is opportunity. Inkjet technology can be used in new markets replacing less energy efficient processes. New areas for inkjet growth include industrial applications like textiles, packaging, and the fabrication of circuitry.

There is of course the environmental damage caused by paper consumption. As page volumes continue to grow (more so outside of the home), paper-related regulations are on the mind of every printer executive. Any major restriction to the use of paper could curb growth in the industry. However, it's unlikely that this will happen all at once (or anytime soon). It's more likely that governments will continue to take small steps to slow down the depletion of forests and pollution resulting from paper manufacturing. Environmental policies will be broad and will not target the hard copy industry specifically.

Databazaar Blog: You point out that HP's cartridge overhaul focuses on large-scale business consumers on price-per-page instead of price per cartridge. If such a small percentage of users print such a large percentage of the pages, is it possible companies like HP and Lexmark will eventually just let the consumer market go to focus on the business market?

Andy Lippman: The consumer printing market will always be important. The desktop ink cartridge industry is valued at $30 billion alone. There is still potential for growth in home photo printing, even though it has been somewhat over hyped. Small and home office printing (SOHO) represents another opportunity for both inkjet and laser desktop vendors. Inkjet printers are moving into laser territory with more robust duty cycles, better print speeds, and greater functionality. While laser printers are moving into inkjet territory with lower acquisition prices and smaller footprints.

The price-per-page message is not only related to business use. First, it's a response to aftermarket cartridge pricing, which does not give consumers detailed information on page yield and cost per page. It's also a result of the new ISO page yield standard passed in December 2006. Finally, cost of operation has gained new attention with the launch of Kodak's printers.

Databazaar Blog: Which printer(s) do you use at home and at work?

Andy Lippman: At home I have a low-end all-in-one from HP, the PSC 1510. It has lower-priced cartridges and a relatively high price-per-page. I fit into HP's category of an infrequent user. This is because I do much of my printing in the office on a HP LaserJet 4250.

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.

June 20, 2007

Toner Pioneer Art Diamond Reflects on his 52 Year Career and the Future of Printing

By Databazaar Blog

Printer Pundits: Art Diamond on Memjet and Edgeline, New Developments in Laser Printers, Toner Safety, and More

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Art Diamond has maintained a prominent profile in the imaging industry for over half a century. He started his career working in R&D at Kodak and eventually formed Diamond Research Corporation in 1968, a technology consulting and chemical engineering firm at which he currently serves as President. Along the way, Art amassed 15 patents in the field of reprography, and authored more than 70 publications on imaging technology, including a textbook (Handbook of Imaging Materials, 2nd Edition).

Notwithstanding these achievements, most people know Art as the Chairman of the Tiara Group, which hosts the highly-regarded annual Toners & Photoreceptors conference as well as the newer Ink Jet Inks conference. The 2007 Toners & Photoreceptors conference just concluded (you can order recordings and other materials). The 2008 conference will take place June 9-11, 2008 in Santa Barbara. We're extremely grateful that Art found the time to participate in Printer Pundit Week for. Below you'll find our interview — the third installment in our new Printer Pundits feature.

Databazaar Blog: With conferences on both ink jet inks and laser toner, you have a vested interest in both technologies. What do you make of Memjet's announcements this year not to mention HP's Edgeline?

Art Diamond: Edgeline and Memjet are breakthrough technologies that enable high resolution, high reliability ink jet printing in every sector of the market. From the low-end kiosk churning out full color retail prints, to the high-end 70+ page per minute digital color printer, these technologies are formidable entries into the marketplace. However, here are my concerns:

To dry wet paper at the high speeds indicated, with 50% or better image coverage, I suspect that the drying system will add significant cost to any printer. With laser printer costs falling (they are currently at $300 or below) and these new ink jet printer costs rising, the future is not all that clear.

Another positive factor for ink jet is Kodak's announcement that it is going to adopt the Chinese model of ink pricing. They are departing from the razors and blades model of ink jet ink sales and reducing the price by around 50%. The big question is whether HP and Memjet will follow suit and adopt this new paradigm.

Memjet has startled the industry with it announced printer, but when will it become available? From what I've heard and read, it is at least one year away.

With these great strides having been made in ink jet printing technology, one wonders whether laser printers are standing still? Not! For one thing, I expect that color toner costs will also come down as more producers are able to emulate chemically produced technology (CPT) toners using conventional ground toner that is spheroidized or reshaped. Also, I suspect that CPT will prove to be "overkill" in toner manufacturing.

Databazaar Blog: Will ink jet printers someday replace laser printers in the office?

Art Diamond: Not immediately. After 52 years in the imaging industry I've learned that "old technologies die hard." In addition to the anticipated added cost of the Edgeline and Memjet machines, we must consider the existing installed base of laser printers. These are not going away that fast.

Databazaar Blog: We've heard a lot about ink jet technology this year. What's new and interesting in the laser/electrophotography camp?

Art Diamond: As I indicated above, lower cost and a greater number of sources of color toner are interesting factors.

In addition, the "CPT is overkill" view that I have expressed above could encourage many monochrome toner plants to switch to color toner and thereby enjoy the thicker profit margins they offer.

Databazaar Blog: What are the top three trends you've observed in the printer industry since you started with Kodak?

Art Diamond: First, affordable color at every speed sector in the imaging industry. This was but a dream in the 1950s.

Second, the switch from analog (light-lens) copiers and printers to digital (scanning and digitizing) devices.

And third, development of the multifunction printer (MFP) which is rapidly replacing copiers in homes and offices.

Databazaar Blog: Which issues generated the most buzz at your Toners & Photoreceptors 2007 conference?

Art Diamond: 1. The rising price of monochrome (black) toner due to the cost of styrene being tied to the price of oil.

2. The falling price of color toners due to a growing list of reliable sources.

3. The threat of Memjet and Edgeline technologies.

4. The possible competitive threat of China's 30 toner plants as their product quality rises and they look to Western markets.

5. The fear of tighter environmental controls stemming from legislation affecting European producers.

Databazaar Blog: We couldn't help but notice an issue on the agenda at the conference Dry Toner: Health and Safety Issues. What do we know about the health risks of toner, which just about every laser printer owner has inhaled at one time or another? Do today's cartridges provide better protection than those from the early days?

Art Diamond: Toner manufacturers have always been extremely sensitive to possible health risks with toner because it comes into contact with human skin. Epoxy resins, for example, have been totally excluded in favor of the benign styrene-acrylics and polyesters. These two toner resin types make up the majority of today's black and color toners. Particle size is also a consideration as anything below 10 microns is considered hazardous. Selling toner in cartridges has been a brilliant solution to this concern as it avoids the need for a customer to pour toner from a bottle into a machine hopper.

While there have been some fatalities due to large dust cloud explosions in toner plants, these are all in the past. Today's plant manager is highly cognizant of the dangers of a large spill and the need for regular plant cleanup to avoid buildup of toner particles on rafters and overhead pipes and beams.

Databazaar Blog: Which printers do you personally use at home and work and why?

Art Diamond: We have an HP LaserJet 3380 MFP which replaced a $25,000 Xerox 1065 that I purchased new in the 1980s. It handles most of my document printing, copying, and fax requirements.

We also have an old HP LaserJet Series IID printer that is hooked up to our bookkeeping computer. It continues to run well.

I do not have a computer or printer at home. I spend enough time at the office (3 miles away) so there is no need to work at home.

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.

June 19, 2007

Industry Expert Jim Lyons Discusses HP, its Competitors, and the Future of Printing

By Databazaar Blog

Printer Pundits: Jim Lyons on the Inkjet Versus Laser Debate, Lessons Learned During His Career at HP, His Favorite Printers, and More

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After leaving HP in 2005 after 24 years as a marketer, manager, and strategic business executive, Jim Lyons didn't stray too far from his roots. He currently employs his expertise as an independent consultant, educator, and journalist. Regarding the latter, he pens the monthly Observations column in The Hard Copy Observer, and also publishes his own lively blog, Jim Lyons Observations. We thank Jim for sharing his unique perspective on the printing and imaging industry with us during Printer Pundit Week. His interview below constitutes the second installment in our new Printer Pundits feature.

Databazaar Blog: You've covered both Memjet and Edgeline extensively in your blog. Given these developments, will inkjet printers someday replace laser printers in the office?

Jim Lyons: Yes … and no. Zooming way way out — look at the printing industry historically and you'll see it's always been about "ink." It may be this is returning. Who knows? Toner may be seen as a temporary aberration in the long view. I'm still not giving up my LaserJets just yet though!

Databazaar Blog: What is the most valuable lesson you learned at HP?

Jim Lyons: Tough to come up with "the most valuable" because who knows when that will change? I think one worth highlighting though, is that when you're too close to the business, and focused on nothing but early adopters, it's easy to misjudge market readiness. Products often are in reality way ahead of their time, even if it doesn't seem like it.

An example — I remember working hard on trying to see into the future and knowing what changes to printing would be wrought by the Internet and the very beginnings of the World Wide Web, and trying to get ahead of the trends, but feeling like we were behind. This was starting in about 1994. Just this May and June we're seeing HP make a huge push ("Print 2.0") with the same kinds of initiatives. Learning patience and perspective is what I'd call it.

Databazaar Blog: What is the most valuable advice you could give to HP regarding its printer business for the next five years?

Jim Lyons: I like the things HP printer leader Vyomesh Joshi has been saying lately — things like "it's about printing, not printers." I do have a skeptical side though. I think with all HP's success, management needs to keep the troops from becoming too comfortable with the status quo. Assuming printing behavior and attitudes will remain unchanged in the future requires the belief that those things haven't changed in the past — which is clearly an incorrect observation! In the June issue of The Hard Copy Observer I write about a number of these changes — for example, in higher education these days, a "paper" may never be printed!

Databazaar Blog: In a recent Hard Copy Observer column, you noted that the printer industry "goes about its business quietly." It seems that the paper industry is even quieter. Is all the printer paper out there pretty much equivalent or do some brands actually make better paper?

Jim Lyons: Great question though I'm not the one to ask about this having spent most of my time on the hardware and solutions sides of the business, and not supplies. One thing I find historically of interest though — one of my first jobs on the LaserJet business in the mid-80's was recruiting partners, and we had numerous paper companies coming forward wanting to align with us (this was of course long before HP had any brand of paper in the market). My proposals for aligning with them were shot down, however — printing on plain paper was too important of a product characteristic to be compromised by playing favorites.

Certainly there's a big difference in paper today — especially when taking a global view. I remember when certain LaserJet models we'd introduced at HP ran into print quality and paper feeding problems when used with paper made of fibers other than wood, and with high talc content.

Databazaar Blog: HP sells more PCs than any other company. Canon sells more digital cameras than any other company. Both devices go hand in hand with printers and both companies sell printers. You would think that brand bundling would provide a huge boost yet Epson and Lexmark sell lots of printers while Dell has struggled to do so. What really sells printers?

Jim Lyons: If I really knew that answer, I wouldn't be wasting my time as a journalist/blogger, would I? But despite all the emphasis on it, great technology is often no more than a hygiene factor (necessary but not sufficient), and outstanding distribution and support can't be overestimated.

Databazaar Blog: Of all the major printer-related developments this year, which one is the most important? Why?

Jim Lyons: Competition! Rather than identify a single competitor like Edgeline, Memjet, Kodak, or Zink, I think the combination of those is the story of the year. I've written about the industry discovering the Small Business market this year, and also the interesting developments HP is lumping under "Print 2.0," but it's the competitive juices that are flowing around new hardware and ink systems that's got the business buzzing. Of course, let's hope that all this upstream work will be worth it in the end, with the nature of print and printing changing so drastically.

Databazaar Blog: Which printers do you personally use at home and work and why?

Jim Lyons: I guess as a printer guy, I'd be expected to manage my own "fleet" and this is the case, even though I'm not a heavy user of print these days (and now waste far fewer pages by using GreenPrint on all my PCs).

I own an HP Color LaserJet 2550 (I'll  upgrade to a newer model one of these days but have a good supply of toner remaining, so will hold off for now). I "eat my own dogfood" by using the 2550 to print business cards and marketing materials. I also have an HP LaserJet 1320 — with duplexing, it's the workhorse in my home office. Our family computer uses a Photosmart C3140 All-in-One, which I got recently for "free" with the purchase of an HP PC. Recipes and driving directions are the main printing chores for this machine, along with the occasional copy via its flatbed scanner and one button, mono or color copy function. My HP PhotoSmart 335 photo appliance printer is rarely if ever used — when I need photo "prints" I'm a dedicated user of the Snapfish/Walgreen's connection. It's cheaper and, more importantly, far less hassle especially when printing a "stack" of photos.

At the downtown office that I share with a partner, it's an HP LaserJet 1020 and HP PSC 1410 All-in-One, again for the crisp, fast prints the former provides, and the color and copying versatility of the latter.

Yes, I'm an HP printer fan. But I did switch, finally, to a Canon digital camera recently (PowerShot S2) and am very pleased with it.

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.

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

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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.

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