HP adjusts its strategy for printing in a digital world

Published: October 30th, 2007

In the era of Web 2.0 that sees content going digital, Hewlett Packard says the printing world needs to keep pace. Its solution, Print 2.0, aims to provide a quality printing experience no matter where the content resides. The goal? Keeping those print drums rolling.

With the recent launch of a host of new laser and inkjet printer offerings, HP also outlined what it’s calling Print 2.0, its strategy for printing in a digital world. Content is moving to the Web says Jean-Paul Desmarais, IPG marketing manager for HP Canada, and printing needs to adjust. That means taking steps to optimize printing from the Web, an exercise which today can be problematic.

While people are communicating more online and moving their information to a digital medium, Desmarais says that doesn’t mean they’re abandoning paper. Indeed, he says statistics around pages printed continue to trend upward. People want to print things that are valuable to them, he says.

“Our business will remain strong as long as we continue to give people the ability to print wherever they find valuable content,” he said.

Desmarais said HP has worked with companies such as Microsoft to enhance the interface between its print engine and the Web browser to improve print performance, and a new preview tool will let a user see what their page will actually look like when it prints, before it prints.

On the channel side, Desmarais said HP wants to help its partners change the conversation with its customers from one around printers to one around document management.

“Partners who have expertise and provide document management to their customers are well positioned to grow,” said Desmarais.

He adds when it comes to a discussion around workflow and document management, partners can leverage HP’s other hardware and software solutions, from storage to services, which can be a competitive advantage.

“It’s an advantage HP can bring to the table that none of our competitors can,” says Desmarais, adding HP’s IPG Elite partner program is designed to help and reward partners that leverage the full HP portfolio around document management.

“We feel we’re very strongly positioned in the marketplace with the best products, the best partners, and the best understanding of what our customers need,” says Desmarais.

While the conversation is moving away from printing on its own toward document management, Desmarais said we’re still a long way from the paperless office, if indeed we’ll ever get there.

“People want to print valuable content, and there’s more valuable content becoming available,” he says. “People want to work from a printed page.”

A slightly different view is held by Brad Hughes, an senior analyst following the printer market with IDC Canada in Toronto. The most valuable content is remaining digital, he said, and rather printed copies are becoming more transitory.

“People are still printing obviously but that paper copy isn’t as important,” said Hughes. “People print stuff off to read while they’re on the bus or on the toilet and then throw it out.”

However, while people might be reading more off the screen in the consumer space, in the business world prints are still on the rise. For the enterprise, said Hughes, the printed page remains an important part of doing business.

The Web world is still a threat however, and Hughes said HP is ahead of the curve with some of the new tools they’re releasing.

“As long as you’re going to print in the end, HP wins. They assume, and rightly so because they have 50 per cent of the market, that when you print it’s more that likely going to be on HP pages,” said Hughes. “It’s a neat go to market model. It doesn’t necessarily translate into more printer sales but it does mean more prints, or at least maintaining current print levels.”

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