With its new range of printers that can receive and print images and documents from smartphones and laptops, HP plans to create a spending spree to match or surpass the one triggered by the arrival of affordable colour printing.
HP ePrinters are a selection of inkjet and laser printers offering the capability to print from any mobile device over the internet. Using an HP ePrinter you could, for example, send holiday photos taken on your smartphone to an ePrinter in the home of your family or friends, so they too could share in the captured moment. Students using the internet at college to research work could send a documents that might be useful to their printer so that they can refer to it later when they are doing their homework. Your could send directions, a printed railway or airline ticket, shopping coupons, an advert, or just a web page, from a laptop directly to an e-printer, where (assuming the device is on) it would be printed out for the person nearest to the printer to view right away, or for you to pick up later.
Firmware and HP’s cloud-based ePrinterCentre service take care of all the print management, so ePrinter don;t need drivers to be loaded onto the source PC; and as they come with their own unique email address, you don’t even need to connect the printer to a PC directly – although you can do that as well of course. If you can connect the device to the internet , you can send prints to it. You just need to know that unique email address, which is issued when the printer is first set-up and connected to the HP cloud service.
All you need then is a way to send emails from remote devices. The email address provided incidentally is completely random – this has been done to meet US regulations but also to provide a good measure of security for users. You would not want just anyone to be able to send printouts to your private or hared office or home printer, so a white-listing feature enables you to make sure that only authorized users can use a particular printer.
It’s easy to the appeal of ePrinting and it may well become one of the big hits with consumers. That’s certainly what HP is hoping will happen, as Stephan Batteux, HP Portfolio Manger and Inkjet and Web Services, EMEA explains. “our Lives are becoming more and more mobile. We are always at different locations but wherever we are, we still have access to information, to the web and to email and the ability to communicate. But it is very difficult to print a hard copy of a document when we are mobile. Our research suggests that 85 percent of smartphone users would like to able to print easily and amongst iPad users, the function that most said was missing was printing. We see this as a major innovative step.”
HP has demonstrated ePrinting at some trade and consumer events and the response it received was tremendous, says Batteux. “People really get it because they have not been able to print from their smartphones before. Now, if you can email it, you can print it. I have not seen people as excited about printers in a long time.” He believes that the introduction of ePrinting will be on a par with the arrival of colour on desktop printers and will trigger off a similar wave of purchasing. HP is first to market with ePrinters and will be looking to exploit its leadership to the full. It released a number of all-in-one printers with ePrinting capability and these have now been joined by Officejet, Laserjet and Designjet models. There are already some special ePrinting apps, that allow parents to print out cartoon images for their kids to colour-in for example.
A major promotional campaign is in train, with TV adverts, national newspaper and computer magazines. Spreading the word about how easy it is to print now. Batteux hopes that retailers and resellers will seize the opportunity to encourage customers to replace their old printers with ePrinters. “It’s a good story to tell customers and a good opportunity to engage with them and if your take it a little further, enabling people to print more from their smartphones and their camera-phones, will also create more opportunities to sell supplies such as printer ink and toner cartridges.”
HP is providing a whole range of sales and marketing aids and information available to partners online – including a series of useful videos that show how customers might use ePrinters in real world scenarios.