Monday, October 1, 2007

Print 2.0 — Part One

Hewlett-Packard recently rolled out its $300 million Print 2.0 marketing campaign. The term Print 2.0 is based on the growing concept of Web 2.0, generally seen as the second generation of Web use and services.

Basic idea behind Web 2.0 is an increased emphasis on user-to-user communication. Examples of Web 2.0 include YouTube (self-produced film clips), podcasting (shared audio information), FaceBook (social networking), and Wikipedia (an encyclopedia based on shared expertise). Some see the term as marketing hype, but there is no doubt that these programs and others have made it easier for end users to move from becoming simple consumers of the Web to producers and consumers.

So what is Print 2.0? It’s a little confusing at this point. HP sees it as an attempt to move “from selling printers to selling printing.” What that means is something like a move from selling boxes to selling solutions. And it makes sense. HP makes little if any profit on the sales of printing devices, especially in the competitive home and small-office markets. Where it does make money, and lots of it, is in selling consumables: toner and ink, which are high markup items. Hence HP’s emphasis not on selling more printers (they dominate the market for both lasers and ink jets), but on have customers print more pages on those printers (and buying more supplies).

HP, then, is in the midst of figuring out how to entrench and extend its domination. It’s pushing strongly in three areas:
* On the home consumer level, it is providing new software that encourages end users to get creative without necessarily having to buy or master Illustrator or Photoshop
* On the office level, it is putting a strong emphasis on multifunctionals as replacements for office copiers and on the workflow tools related to them
* On the high-end production level, it has been pushing it new Edgeline high-speed ink jet printer-multifunctionals along with a new generation wide-format printers and HP’s jaw-dropping Halo video-conferencing.

We’ll look at some of the specific new products in another post.

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