Thursday, October 4, 2007

Print 2.0 — Part Two

Hewlett-Packard’s Print 2.0 initiative, once you get past the marketing hype, is about a series of packages that extend the usefulness of printing for different classes of users. We’ll give a few examples below of new applications where we think HP has made a step forward, and may well help in its goal to have people print even more pages on desktop printers.

Consumers and Small Businesses
One trend that HP has discovered is that while a few years ago, the large majority of pages were printed from standard PC applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Photoshop, etc.), now a growing number of pages come directly from an Internet page (48 percent according to their figures and growing). Web pages have several characteristics for the print market, not least being that (if printed in color) they use up a lot of ink or toner, thanks to colored backgrounds. But as we all know, Web pages often don’t fit on printed pages.

So HP has come up with a program called Smart Web Printing that allows you to combine selections from several Web pages on one printed page. It will automatically resize the content to fit on one or more pages. You can also edit text and delete or resize graphics. This software will be packaged with new HP printers due out in September.

Small and Medium Business
One of the new applications that HP recently purchase is one called Logoworks, a package that allows businesses to put together a whole suit of branding materials (stationery, business cards, etc.), without having to go outside to purchase design services or commercial printing services. The software includes a number of templates that users can simply plug in logo and text.

The big announcement its new Open Extensibility Platform, which provides an application programming interface (API) so that users and third parties can develop interfaces and workflows for high-end printers and especially multifunctionals. With this HP joins copier companies like Canon, Ricoh, and Xerox, which offer this capability for their copier/multifunctionals. It is clear that HP is aiming at that market as one of its key strategies, with both high-speed ink jet and laser multifunctionals that increasingly look like office copiers.

Printer Management
HP’s Web Jetadmin has been the standard for IT department management of printers on the network, and has been a major selling point for HP. HP has upgraded its Office Server software, which adds several impressive layers of administrative controls. It has an impressive list of features, including on-the-fly format conversion, group and individual privilege management, job authentication, accounting, and performance reporting. While this product and the suite of products that extend it has been on the market for a while, HP released a number of enhancements.

There were lots more new announcements (including hardware upgrades and new software alliances. If Print 2.0 is not as quite a big revolution as HP would like to have us believe, it is still an impressive campaign on every front. The HP juggernaut has shifted up a gear and its rivals in the printer market will have to catch up.

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