HP Propels Printer Speed

Taking competition in the printer market beyond cost, Hewlett-Packard is differentiating its latest printing products by speeding text and photo printing while also leveraging its innovation to supposedly save ink and paper.

HP said its latest technologies — improved printhead construction and other ehnancements aimed at lowering cost per page — have been incorporated into the Photosmart 8250, which will be selling for about US$200 in U.S. stores soon and is available online now.

Analysts indicated the improvements will provide HP with a performance advantage pitch for consumers, some of whom have been lured away from HP largely on price. The investment of nearly $1.5 billion in development of the technology is likely to pay off for the company, which is looking to maintain its market share, analysts agreed.

“HP feels it will give them a year and a half to two-year advantage, and they’re the leader, so they’re buying time,” IDC Senior Analyst Chris Chute told TechNewsWorld.

Faster for Less

HP — which reported it will also be selling all-in-one printers and a new Officejet Pro K550 with the new printing technology this fall — claimed the latest printers were the “world’s fastest home printing devices,” touting print speeds of 14 seconds for 4×6 photos and twice the speed at 30 percent lower cost-per-page than color laser printers for small and medium-sized business printing.

“This technology is the next step in our business transformation — the master key that unlocks new market opportunities and further growth in our printer business,” read a statement from HP Imaging and Printing Group executive vice president Vyomesh Joshi.

As for the 8250, the new printer features improved printheads that are fabricated as one unit in order to improve the accuracy of ink drop placement, HP said. The design also allows for a higher density of print nozzles per printhead. Ink and paper are further saved by speeding higher-quality prints and avoiding mid-page ink outages.

HP suggested that the new scalable printhead platform will allow the company to address different markets ranging from high-volume, commercial customers to small and medium-sized businesses.

HP Style, Sales Pitch

IDC’s Chute said the printer innovation strategy fits into HP’s experience and core competency, but the printer market still revolves around cost-per-page and page-per-minute yardsticks.

The analyst indicated that HP had succeeded in providing a performance advantage that some customers will likely be willing to pay for and that will be easy for sellers to communicate.

“It’s pretty easy to understand,” he said of HP’s marketing message. “It prints faster and better.”

While HP competitors may not have matching technology improvements for some time, Chute added, they are likely to incorporate the same themes into their own marketing as a result of HP’s strategy.

Position Up, Technology Down?

IDC Program Manager Ron Glaz agreed that the new technology would help HP differentiate its products and maintain its market share, which stands at about 35 percent of the inkjet market worldwide.

“With their new technology — the printhead technology and the fast print — I think it’s definitely going to allow them to improve their position,” Glaz told TechNewsWorld.

The analyst added that while the new technology may help HP maintain its strength in the photo and 4×6 sub-markets, the biggest question will be how and how fast HP brings the technology down to lower-priced printers, versus the latest ones that appeal mainly to photo enthusiasts.

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