June 21, 2010
HP To Sell Printers With Email Address: Meet the New Tech (In)Convenience
The trend in technology these days is mobility. Steve Jobs said that the PC is the truck of the computing industry, while mobile devices are cars. There are more cars out there that trucks these days. Steve Ballmer countered that by saying Microsoft OS and PC-centric computing is viable for years to come. After all, an iPad is a PC, is it not? What's missing in mobile devices is the printer, not that anyone or everyone needs a printer to go along with the phone. Hewlett-Packard sees mobile devices as a problem for this very reason. The company make no money on ink or other printer commodities with no convenient way for people to print on the go.
Enter the web connected printer. More than having a simple wireless connection, each printer comes with an IP address and a unique email address. Now, documents can be emailed directly to the printer via email. Think of this as a web-aware fax machine without the phone line. No printer drivers are necessary, and no operating system to stand in the way. I can see businesses and libraries using these web printers to mail documents to customers and clients directly under some circumstances. Need a copy of an article? Just mail it to a person's home printer. Or so it goes.
Most entities sell new capabilities on the positive things they can do. (WestlawNext comes to mind) The bad stuff always comes later. PCs lived in peace and harmony until malware showed up in the form of infected documents. Then came better delivery methods (I'm talkin' to you, Mr. Internet) and infections still come through even with multiple malware filters running on the same machine. What will be the equivalent in our brave new world where our printer can get email print jobs? One of the positives that's discussed in news is the ability to tie into Google Docs and other services. One Google manager was thrilled he could take pictures with his phone and send them to his mother's printer. What's missing there is an assumption that his mother wants the prints as opposed to looking at the same pictures on Picassa. The same information gets communicated, but with one, HP gets someone to use more ink. Lest anyone wonder, printer ink has an average price of about $10,000 per gallon. People laugh about comparing the cost of gas with bottled water.
The next part of this trend to encourage mass printing comes with an announcement that HP is teaming up with Yahoo to provide subscription content directly to the printer, such as the daily top news stories, and have it delivered daily at a stated time. Fine, except these will come with targeted ads to the recipient. HP tested this and said no one in the test group seemed put off by the idea. The benefits to HP exactly are...more ink used up, and a ready made audience to use to sell ads to a third party. Something for everybody, I think.
That announcement lead me to speculate what's next. Let's say there is potential for unsolicited documents, spam, and all kinds of unwanted or unsolicited communication at the cost of paper and ink. There are regulations now that outlaw fax machine spam. They will likely need to be updated to include printers with email addresses. I'm sure teh partnership with Yahoo is only the beginning. I'm half expecting an announcement that ties these devices into Facebook and other social sites. One won't have to be online any more to find out what friends are doing, and likely with ads in tow.
HP has said that they have to get the privacy right on these devices. The products are too new to have details of how they will work in a practical sense. I don't know if I'll be able to filter which material comes to my printer or how much control I'll have over the process. Everything will apparently go through HP servers, or somebody's. Will I feel comfortable with sensitive documents going through these systems/devices? Are they secure or encrypted? Will they be hackable? Can my printer get a virus? Will they have DRM features that make it impossible to print certain documents? Will we be charged for printing accounts in the future? And, most important of all, can I turn off the feature and still print the old way? I'd like to know the answers to some of these things before I invest in a system such as this. [MG]
I've encountered it before but it was a huge printer. If HP will implemented in a home use printer then this will be something.
thanks for sharing it.
Posted by: Jaydee | Sep 2, 2010 5:22:21 AM
A major producer-distributor of porn movies claims to have hacked the iPad for delivery of his product. How long before we find porn print-outs waiting for us when we arrive to work in the morning. "Not that there's anything wrong with that," to paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld. Just imagine what the white boards in IT tech support workrooms will be covered with ...
Posted by: Joe Hodnicki | Jun 21, 2010 2:00:46 PM