New dawn for HP in printing arena

New dawn for HP in printing arena

HP is rolling out a new strategy it says will help transform the company from a printer vendor to a provider of a full set of printing products and services.

The Print 2.0 strategy consists of web-based, software-as-as-service-styled printing tools and an expanded range of printers and imaging products.

HP unveiled the strategy to journalists at its Smart Office 2007 Asia Pacific media briefing in Vietnam last month.

The company says Print 2.0 is part of an overall strategy designed to help the company capture a significant portion of the 53 trillion pages forecast to be printed by 2010 – an opportunity valued at more than US$296 billion.

Already the dominant provider of printing products and services in the Asia Pacific region, the company wants to extend this lead with the Print 2.0 strategy, especially among SMEs, says Herbert Koeck, vice president for HP’s Imaging and Printing Group in Asia Pacific.

Quoting figures from research firm IDC for the second quarter of 2007, Koeck says HP holds 54 percent of the single-function laser market, 25 percent of the multifunction laser market and 50 percent of the inkjet all-in-one market in region, excluding Japan.

“With Print 2.0 we want to transform HP from a printer to a printing company.”

Koeck adds with Print 2.0 HP aims to help SMEs create, consume, manage and print business content. This will be in-house using its hardware, through online services, in retail outlets or through a print service provider. “We want to create an ecosystem to enable SMEs to do what they want with their printing.”

While HP has launched a large number of new printing hardware products to support this strategy, it is the web-based services and tools that most signify the company’s shift away from selling just printers.

One issue HP wants to tackle is printing content from the internet. It plans to address this with Smart Web Printing software, which will be bundled with all-new HP printers and can also be downloaded free online. The software allows users to print only the content they want from web pages and is available as more pages are expected to be printed from the internet than off PCs this year, says Koeck.

“The experience of printing from the web is not yet what users want – it is still messy. We want to make printing from the internet the same as printing from a PC application.”

In tandem with Smart Web Printing, HP has also released the Tabblo Print Toolkit, which web developers can use to make their content more print friendly.

At the other end of the Print 2.0 scale is Logoworks, a professional, online design service HP acquired earlier this year. It claims Logoworks gives SMEs access to professional design offerings, at a fraction of market cost. The service is staffed by 40 inhouse graphic designers, says Koeck.

HP has also introduced free online design resources for SMEs, dubbed HP Online Marketing Tools and Templates, which allow users to self-design business stationery like document headers, business cards and marketing collateral from a range of templates.

While all these services are delivered directly by HP, partners will benefit as they will drive an increase in colour and multifunction printing. He adds resellers can improve their service to customers by informing them of how HP’s Print 2.0 tools can help them.

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