You need to print photos, coupons or that interesting article you just read on the Internet -- but you're nowhere near a printer. What to do? Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) set out to solve that dilemma and came up with a new line of printers that will come with their own email addresses to let anybody print remotely.
HP calls its new Photosmart product line "e-All-In-One" printers, which will allow users to schedule and send print jobs from any Web-connected gadget such as cell phones, laptops and iPads.
The new printers will also allow consumers with multiple computers at home to bypass technical quirks that make it difficult for all the machines to access the same printer, as can happen when the computers are using different operating systems. Instead of figuring out the home networking bug, users could simply send print jobs to their chosen printer via the Web.
HP, the world's largest computer company, which wants to sell more printers and ink cartridges, also hopes its new products will eventually create marketing opportunities for websites and advertisers. For example, when you get home and pick up that yummy pie recipe from your printer, you might see ads from a kitchenware company. This kind of targeted advertising isn't happening in the near future, however, according to an HP spokeswoman.
Creating Consumer Appeal
Will consumers embrace this new class of printers? HP believes there's a demand for printing photos, event listings or news stories any time, any place, so that they would be ready when users get home. People could even send content to HP e-printers owned by friends or relatives.
The company believes it can sell more than 15 million of these e-printers by 2011, The New York Times reported.
The growing popularity of smartphones, Internet devices such as iPad and even laptop computers means people can view and store information whenever and wherever they are. Internet devices are increasingly being designed to make online reading a more pleasant experience.
To entice consumers and borrow a popular strategy from the smartphone world, HP is teaming up with websites and developers to provide applications that allow users to organize the content they want to get -- and print. The apps will include daily news feeds from Yahoo (YHOO) and MSNBC; coloring pages and other family activities from Crayola; literacy, math and science activities from PBS KIDS; photos from Google's (GOOG) Picasa; photos and event listings from Facebook; directions from MapQuest and concert tickets from Live Nation.
The apps are available at HP's ePrintCenter website. E-printer owners can also track their print jobs through the site.
HP is rolling out the cheapest version of the e-printers later this month in North America with a starting price of $99. A more expensive version, at $149, is set for launch in August and comes with a larger touch screen and better print quality. In September, the company expects to introduce machines costing $199 and $299 with even more features. For example, one will come with fax and scanning functions.
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