Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Quickie: Computer Printers

Years ago, King Camp Gillette said that the key to his profits was to give away the razor and sell people the blades.  He did not originate this idea, but he used it beautifully. The same seems to go for most computer printers these days.

Every time I've bought a computer printer, I've had to make a simple decision. Do I want for the printer to print color images such as photographs? Or, do I want the printer to print monochrome pages, good enough for resumes and other similar documents? Years back, I decided to buy laser printers for "day to day" printing, and ink jet printers for color printing.

Over the years, using laser printing for most documents has saved me a lot of money.  Buying a toner cartridge for $65.00 ends up costing me about $0.03 to print each page. Buying equivalent ink jet cartridges usually costs me about $0.15 to print each page. So it makes sense to buy inexpensive printers, and replace them when the printers stop working or become unusable with current versions of Windows or Mac software.

A couple of manufacturers have bucked this trend.  One of them is Kodak.  Yes, the company that went bankrupt, never to be seen again, did make a line of printers - and they decided to change the game.  Buy a printer for what it costs to make the printer, and sell low cost ink at a reasonable price.  Sadly, Kodak was too late into the market to change the marketing paradigm for printers. And, with one exception, I haven't seen Kodak printers or supplies for sale anywhere.

However, things are starting to change.  HP has developed a new marketing paradigm, where ink is shipped shortly before the printer's supply is exhausted.  By making ink easy to buy, they may decide to flip the sales model and advertise TCO (total cost of ownership) instead of purchase price.  If this works, as I hope it does, we'll see printers that outlast the computers they work with, as well as greater convenience for the end users of this equipment.

1 comment:

  1. And nowadays, printers can tell if the cartridge you just inserted is of the printer's own brand, and/or a refill, and refuse to work until you put in a new one of the proper brand. That's like a car refusing to run without Sunoco gas in the tank...

    I, too, use an older laser for 99 percent of my printing. It's the way to go.

    My newest printer is an inkjet, and cartridges all have to be in place and have ink in them. Period. You can't even make b&W copies if any of the color cartridges are empty. So in order to copy that document, you have to run out and buy whatever color cartridges are dry. The cartridges are so small and contain so little ink, that I only get about 150-200 copies out of each one. Nice marketing...

    Never checked to see if the fax will work with any low cartridges. Since it prints a cover sheet, I'd bet that it won't.

    So I'll stick with my laser...and only use the inkjet for faxes and the few pictures I print.