HP’s Fall printing event in Barcelona was supposed to be a low-key event but given the backdrop of the ongoing Autonomy saga, this year’s conference, which brought together analysts, channel partners and journalists, had an altogether different flavour.
The Autonomy furore cast its shadow over the event but any potentially controversial statement linked to it was tacitly avoided in public. Instead, the keynote speakers and the employees I spoke to seemingly shared the belief that the company was on the cusp of a revolution that could have tremendous repercussions for the printing and data/content management industries.
For a start, HP showcased its new range of business range printers, the Officejet Pro X-series, the first of a series of products (or product families) that not only challenge common misconceptions associated with inkjet printers, but may also start to rival laser printers in a business environment.
It is only a matter of time before inkjet printers could potentially make laser printers technically obsolete. HP’s PageWide technology enables inkjet printers to be faster, cheaper (per print and initial outlay), smaller, more power efficient and more environment-friendly than their laser-based cousins.
Even HP's fastest laser printers can only reach 51ppm in monochrome and around 41ppm in colour, far less then the X-series' 70ppm.
And there’s at least two reasons why HP may choose to hasten this process of change. First, another company, Memjet, has already developed and started to license a similar technology, one which could allow rivals to catch up quickly with HP. Secondly, laser printers and consumables, we suspect, generally carry a higher bill of materials compared to their inkjet counterparts. Therefore, focusing on inkjets is likely to improve HP's average margins.