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|eXpert Row Commentary - Tribute Tuesdays|
Commentary by Andrew Tribute
June 5, 2007 -- At the HP annual Imaging and Printing Conference for industry analysts held in New York the company unveiled "Print 2.0," the strategy for making printing relevant and empowering as both personal and professional content increasingly moves from the desktop to the web. This is designed to link up with the new developments on the web known as Web 2.0. Web 2.0 is the empowering of the user to participate in the creation of web content through social networking, blogs, photo sites, etc.
HP has tested out this Print 2.0 strategy within their digital photographic imaging business. At this stage however no other business within the HP Imaging and Printing Group has implemented anything utilizing the web to enhance their operations. This was very graphically and embarrassingly demonstrated in a Q&A session at the conference with seven senior vice presidents when they were asked how they were using the web for enhancing the operations of their business areas. All of them with the exception of Larry Lesley who heads up digital photography and entertainment had no answer to the question. For these other six business operations Print 2.0 is a strategy for the future - not a current implementation.
In addition to this empowering of web users to get into print, HP also added a range of new service offerings for enhancing and managing the print services of different types of corporate, government and educational organisations. In this it is in reality more in a catch up mode to match the offerings of competitors like Kodak, Oce and Xerox.
Does this have any impact on the graphic arts market? In the empowering of the web users probably not much impact. Sophisticated web sites, such as HP's Snapfish photo site already have very advanced printing capabilities that drive print to specific graphic arts companies. Such sites have realized the impact of web to print and build a service that uses it. The area that Print 2.0 will mainly interest is where users will predominantly print to their desktop printers that HP hopes will mainly be HP inkjet printers. Since most of these web sites are very colorful, this should sell a large volume of HP ink. The new service offerings however should generate a substantial volume of printing that HP hopes will go in the direction of their HP Indigo customers. As HP does not sell its HP Indigo presses into most government, corporate or educational organizations, these services are most likely to push work under managed contracts to HP Indigo press users.
This however brings up a very interesting point and this is the impact that the latest HP printing technology could have on the graphic arts market. This is the Edgeline inkjet technology that has recently been launched in the HP CM8050/8060 Color MFP product. This is the first of a range of new color printing products targeted at the “enterprise” space that will be introduced over the next year or so. The CM8050/8060 Color MFP is a printer with a scanner that runs at around 50 pages/minute (ppm) and costs in the region of $25,000. (It is difficult to define the price as it depends upon the type of service contract a customer has with HP). The printer is a good quality printer, at this stage not as good as 50-ppm xerographic offering from Konica Minolta, Ricoh or Xerox, but it is cheaper than these products. What is interesting however is the potential of the Edgeline technology.
From my assessment of Edgeline, I expect to see a higher quality version probably with six colors, and with the ability to print a B3 size document without slowing down as the CM8050/8060 Color MFP does, and with a speed of around 70 ppm. Such a product could easily sell for perhaps as low as $50,000, and would have great interest for the graphic arts markets. At present HP's entry level product for graphic arts digital printing is the HP Indigo press 1050. This press that runs at only 35 color A4 ppm sells for around $150,000 and in reality is uncompetitive when compared with the new 40 - 60 ppm products from other companies. It only has its high image quality going for it.
I believe that if the Edgeline technology is introduced in a product as I predict above, that this could have a significant impact in changing the graphic arts marketplace. HP maintains that Edgeline is a technology for the "enterprise" but I think HP may have in future a range of products that could have real attraction in future for graphic arts.
What do you think of Andy's view? Please offer your feedback to Andy via email: email@example.com.
Attributes Associates is an internationally oriented consulting company specializing in marketing and technology issues for the printing, publishing and media markets. The Managing Partner of Attributes Associates is Andrew Tribute, who is recognized internationally as one of the world's leading authorities on these industries and subjects.
Andrew Tribute is a visiting Professor at University of the Arts London.