In spite of the paperless office still being the stuff of futuristic science-fiction, there is no doubt that the internet/intranet has already changed and will continue to shift which information ends up as printed matter and how it gets there. The likes of Hewlett Packard Co and Xerox Corp therefore have much to battle over (CI No 3,253), and following the copier giant’s entry into the digital office equipment market in April (CI No 3,145), Hewlett-Packard wants to increase its share of the total ‘printed page’ market, of which desktop printing represents only 3%. First coined more than a year ago, the company’s ‘Digital Workplace’ strategy has been extended and re-launched to help it attack the remaining 97% of the printed page market currently held by centralized industrial printers and photocopiers, and professional off-set printers. It will also, inevitably, be fighting head-on with the newly-styled Xerox. Hewlett-Packard says as a result of the internet, much of the 97% of printed information it doesn’t have at the moment can now be distributed electronically and printed locally, on the type of printers it is known for.
The Digital Workplace revolves around enabling technologies such as the company’s JetSend protocol, announced earlier this summer (CI No 3,209), which enables devices to talk to devices without the intervention of a person or a personal computer, so that, for example, a digital whiteboard could send information directly to someone’s printer anywhere in the world. Hewlett-Packard is also working on technologies to simplify internet printing, such as its Simple Web Printing proposal – jointly developed with Microsoft Corp, and printing elements within HTML 4.0. The company won’t give precise details about the products we will see as part of the strategy, but it says it will announce its first JetSend-enabled printers this autumn, and extend its mopying (multiple original prints as opposed to photocopies) capabilities across its workgroup and departmental LaserJet line. It will also offer new network scanning options, introduce a new high- performance I/O input/output architecture for very high bandwidth network printing applications such as large image files, develop new printers optimized for internet printing, unveil new personal copying products and continue to develop electronic forms applications, for which it has partnered with Canadian JetForm Corp. To achieve this, it says it has increased its research and development budget, realigned its LaserJet Solutions Group employees worldwide into three new business units, and is recruiting resellers with specific expertise beyond the printer business. Fortune magazine recently said the printer business was in its middle age. A spokesperson for Hewlett-Packard refutes this. Our Digital Workplace strategy should put to rest suggestions that the laser printer market is mature.
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