Tuesday, August 19, 2014

$HPQ InkJet vs Toner - Five Reasons You're Hearing so Much

The concept of inkjet printing originated in the 19th century, and the technology was first developed in the early 1950s. Starting in the late 1970s inkjet printers that could reproduce digital images generated by computers were developed, by Epson,Hewlett-Packard (HP), and Canon. - Wikipedia.

The best marketing dollars are spent inviting 'analysts' to an event, feed them caviar, fillet, and tell them how important they are.  Lo and behold, a fountain of cool-aid drinking marketing content disguised as 'fact' splashes across websites and the industry's remaining print media. No blame, its just the way of things.

Nice ROI.

Aside from the 'black-market' marketing, you're more likely to hear the true story in convention back-alleys and frequented waterholes:

1. HP is done fighting third party toner - taking a page out of the Xerox (colorcube) playbook
2. HP is breaking up with Canon - loyalty = hypocrisy = good business decision
3. HP has a huge marketing budget - lay-off 40K, keep the folks who create 'drawer-statements'
4. HP has a large MIF - The Undeniable Albatross
5. HP doesn't want a print channel - HP is an IT company, we know how IT people feel about print

"This could represent the single, largest threat to the channel as the scheme leap-frogs to an OEM(HP). Fortunately, print is dropping - ink, toner or otherwise - and the more visionary MpS practitioners have moved beyond logo's, supplies delivery and marks on paper." - GRW

Ask any HP employee with the slightest tenure; the bane of mother blue has always been third party toner cartridges. For years, HP promoted "real toner" as more efficient and of higher quality, but it didn't matter. End users felt ripped off by the exorbitant pricing and manipulated by the "razor blade" sales model, so they bought the knock-offs.

Then, for a brief flash, HP seemed to embrace the third party toner people. I was there years ago, deep within the bowls of a large, third-party toner provider, discussing managed print services 'partnership' with HP. There were at least 4 HP executives in the room, on stage and speaking.

We had lunch together.

But all that changed.


If you sell third party, you can't sell HP...well, that's the rumor. Fact is, HP had anyone who ever sold their toner through distribution re-certify. Please note, HP sought out relationships with distribution years ago. They helped more than a few MpS programs get off the ground and distribution supported HP's fledgling OPS/MPS program.

In return, after establishing some level of trust with resellers, Mother Blue turned the tables - which is a nicer way of saying, "Betrayed the Channel".
"The cheapest image is the one you don't print." HP, circa 2009...

The writing was on the wall years ago but couldn't have been more stark the day HP smashed the printer group into the computer group (IPG into PSG).  It is a bit like oil and water.

Maybe HP thinks customers want a faster horse. Maybe, they just got the demographic wrong, or polled a biased focus group - perhaps they are still using the same firm that helped them market Touchpad, Edgeline, and the mopier.


Lexmark got out of inkjet - HP doubles down
Xerox expands into distribution, HP contracts/strangles the channel
Paper plants are shutting down everywhere, yet HP is bragging about increased volume

So what does this all mean to folks who sell HP? Nothing. What's the best course of action if you're a reseller ?

Ignore HP and sell everything BUT HP.


If you think you need printers, what's the best course of action?

First ask, "why print?" and if you come up with a good reason,  reach out to Canon, Ricoh, Lexmark, Xerox or anybody else for toner based, MFPs. Your end-users won't complain about 'curling paper' or bad quality.  Besides, they're printing less today than yesterday.


Maybe more people will print with ink instead of toner.  Its possible subscription-based managed print services will help grow the channel. Perhaps, this is a "zig in a world of zags..." and soon, everybody will be carrying around inkjet printers, outputting their own books, receipts, checks, bank statements, loan documents and tax returns.

Sure, in that alternate universe, pigs fly, the USPS is profitable and the Towers stand.