HP Adds iPrint Photo to App Store Inventory
HP has claimed some shelf space at the App Store with free software that lets iPhone users print photographs taken with the device on a nearby HP printer that's hooked up to a WiFi network.
12/23/08 11:50 AM PT
HP has introduced a new application for the iPhone and iPod touch that leverages its diverse product line of inkjet printers.
HP iPrint Photo is available for free at the App Store. As the name suggests, it allows users to print photos from their Apple devices using a local WiFi network and a nearby HP printer.
The application, which is compatible with Apple's Bonjour technology, will be exhibited in January at both the Macworld Conference & Expo and the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
HP iPrint Photo is just one of 10,000 applications that can now be found at the App Store. Still, it is worth examining how HP is using this particular app to take advantage of several intersecting trends.
First, the iPhone has become the Web 2.0 smartphone to beat in just about a year and a half. July's iPhone 3G launch -- at a low-end US$199 or $299 price point -- cemented its foothold.
Another trend is the increasingly important role cell phones are playing in many consumers' everyday lives. Snapping photos with a cell phone is almost as important to consumers as using it make and receive calls.
There has been a rush of third-party applications to fill in the gaps of the iPhone platform. PayPal, for example, has developed an application that lets iPhone users send money to friends and family. Other categories of value-add include mapping applications, voice over Internet protocol, reviews of nearby restaurants and GPS (Global Positioning System) tools.
All are variations on the same theme: The iPhone is a sexy device built on a great platform; it just needs this or that application to fill in a missing piece. In the case of HP iPrint Photo, it's an easier way to print photos taken with the device.
In the beginning, most iPhone applications were consumer-oriented. Increasingly, though, "fun" mobile third-party applications are doing double duty in the business community.
For instance, the iPrint also can double as a productivity application for business, Steve Allard, senior manager with Talent Retriever, told MacNewsWorld.
"We are seeing a lot of applications being developed for mobile phones for the financial services sector," he said.
iPrint doesn't qualify as an industry-specific app, but Allard can easily envision it being used by a consultant or accountant or other industry executive at a client's business site. "If you don't want to borrow a client's computer or bring along a laptop, it would be the easiest thing to just print a document from your iPhone now to a nearby printer."
More than likely, iPrint's greatest use will be on the part of consumers, Phil Leigh, an analyst with Inside Digital Media, told MacNewsWorld. "It is a good application -- a nice additive application -- for those people who like to use their cell phones to take pictures as well."
The point from HP's perspective, he said, is that it wants to stimulate demand for its printers.
Consumers may not rush out to buy a new printer that could work with their iPhone -- but HP probably didn't have that in mind when it developed the application, said Leigh. It's more likely that consumers will keep it in mind as it comes time to replace their old printers.