*NEWS*HP’S PROTECTIVE LAYER

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*NEWS*HP’S PROTECTIVE LAYER

 user 2005-11-25 at 10:28:00 am Views: 52
  • #13056

    HP’S Protective layer
    HP
    has shipped its first batch of office printers using its new scalable
    printing technology. Third-party manufacturers are on the alert
    On
    11 July, when Hewlett-Packard  announced its new scalable printing
    technology (SPT), it claimed the “market changing” system would
    “catapult its leadership in the printer market years ahead of its
    competitors”.
    The high-performance printers feature separated
    printheads and ink tanks, a significant step away from HP’s typically
    integrated cartridges. At the core of the technology is a new type of
    inkjet printhead that uses a higher number of precisely-aligned,
    ink-delivering nozzles – 3,900 or more – offering better printing
    quality, and a faster and cheaper printing process.
    But while SPT opens doors for HP, it also opens a huge third-party supplies market.
    Jamie
    Gryce, HP’s sales and marketing manager of supplies for UK and Ireland,
    told OPI that HP has in no way done anything to inhibit copying or
    filing cartridges. “In fact we have gone the other way,” he says “such
    as using a smart chip in the cartridges instead of a killer chip, which
    does not prevent people refilling it. It is not our place to stop the
    aftermarket.”
    The industry believes that although HP cannot prevent
    the aftermarket, it will protect itself as best it can. “HP is always
    very active in applying patents for its new innovations, we have not
    seen any change in its practice,” says Phil Leckinger of Sourcing
    Partner.
    Greg Welchans of Supplies Network adds: “HP’s philosophy is
    different to other OEMs in that it has not taken a litigious position
    against those that make compatibles. HP has learnt that its velocity in
    changing technology has minimised the success of the remanufacturer in
    the last several years… However I also think it will do everything
    that the law allows to protect it from aftermarket competition.”
    Welchans
    believes that the low prices of SPT cartridges could make it tough for
    third-party players. “It will be a challenge for the aftermarket to
    recover the empties or mould new cartridges, fill them, replace or add
    chips, and package and distribute them profitably. And we haven’t even
    considered any technical or IP issues.”
    Jim Forrest, managing editor
    of Lyra Research, believes that HP could have done more to protect its
    product, but didn’t, not only because of legal reasons, but also to
    invoke some positive PR. “HP hasn’t used a killer chip in its tanks, so
    the user can refill it with third-party ink. Nor has it used an
    encrypted code on the chip, which would make it harder for others to
    replicate. And because the ink tank is separated in SPT, it has made it
    easier for the aftermarket to reengineer ink tanks.”
    Risk
    However,
    Forrest believes that HP has protected itself in other ways. For
    example, it has told customers that they use third-party ink at their
    own risk. “If the nozzles are clogged or burnt out, and if the reason
    for this is third-party ink, then HP won’t honour the warranty,” claims
    Forrest. In addition, the printhead is designed to last the life of the
    printer in the Officejet Pro K550, so there seems little opportunity
    for third-party manufacturers. In any case, the printhead is governed
    by strict intellectual property, he says.
    Welchans agrees that how
    the printhead is manufactured is key to aftermarket success. “In the
    past, the printhead has been designed to work very well even after
    multiple cycles. If HP has designed the printhead to ‘self-destruct’ so
    to speak after one lifecycle, then this could very well deter the
    aftermarket.”
    But HP’s Gryce says that because the printhead is on
    the cartridge itself, the user can replace it if need be, either with
    an HP cartridge or a compatible cartridge from a third-party
    manufacturer, which he believes will be on the market “in due course”.
    But once again, HP warns that quality could be compromised with a
    remanufactured cartridge. “For the purpose of design, the cartridge is
    to be used once and once alone and you will lose quality if re-used,”
    says Gryce. “It’s up to the user to decide whether they are happy with
    that quality.”
    So how long will it take third-party manufacturers to
    get SPT-compatible supplies into the market? “As far as timing is
    concerned, that goes to the question of patents, ink and cartridge
    technology,” says Leckinger.
    Richard Keller, manager of technical
    engineering at Peach adds that because HP has separated the printhead
    from the ink tank, it should not take the aftermarket long.
    But
    Welchans believes aftermarket may take longer than normal to arrive in
    the case of SPT. “Typically aftermarket supplies arrive six months
    after an OEM hits the market. I would say that SPT will lengthen that
    time. The time to market will be based upon availability of cores to
    manufacture from…so the more success HP has in number of printers
    sold, the more likely and sooner we will see aftermarket supplies.”
    HP’s
    Gryce says he has no idea how long it will take. “This depends on the
    quality of the aftermarket and the quality of the technology out
    there,” he says. “It’s very competitive in the retail stores. We have
    strong expectations of the K550. And if sales are high, supplies will
    also go well.”