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 user 2006-05-29 at 11:39:00 am Views: 33
  • #15583

    INDIA:Relief on the way from ink cartridge angst
    Chinese are being offered a cheaper but `original’ option
    Bangalore : “Pound for pound, forget gold and diamonds. There’s nothing more valuable on earth, than an ink jet cartridge,” an editor of an international printing industry journal said recently.”Caviar cost less,” embittered customers have been known to rue – after waking up to the real costs of owning a colour ink jet printer, which can be had less than $70 or Rs. 3000.

    Unique economics
    It is a great bargain – but wait till the initial black and colour cartridges run dry. That is when one understands the unique economics of the budget computer printer business.Original cartridges from the major ink jet printer suppliers in India tend to have as little as 15 millilitres of ink – for a price that can range from Rs. 750 to Rs. 2000 depending on the model.It is big business: the global digital imaging supplies market is worth over $100 billion today, says Lyra Research, a U.S.-based printing industry analyst, and of this ink jet cartridges account for 32 per cent.11 trillion pages in 2005 Ironically the digital revolution has not reduced the use of paper – only increased it to 11 trillion pages in 2005.Unsurprisingly, the ink jet market has seen a large alternative source developing: the business of re-manufactured cartridges from third party sources or – more commonly in India – a small neighbourhood cartridge filling service, which typically charges Rs. 250-Rs. 500 for the refill.

    A price to pay
    However, there is always a price to pay: The May 2006 issue of Hard Copy Supplies journal features a report by Lyra, based on detailed testing by Wilhelm Imaging Research, that image permanence of photos printed with refilled and re-manufactured cartridges is far inferior to those printed with original cartridges for Canon, Epson and HP printers – which happen to be three of the top selling models in India.But when a new colour cartridge costs nearly Rs. 2000 and a black one, around Rs. 1000, many customers still go for the refilling route because they can afford nothing better.
    Many Indian users have found that refilled cartridges often run out very fast or do not work at all. All leading printer makers have built some `smartness’ into their cartridges – ostensibly to warn users when cartridges are about to dry up. In some cases, the chip that does this, has to be reset upon refilling.

    `Draft’ mode
    In a special briefing for The Hindu , Hewlett Packard’s Singapore-based vice-president for the supplies business of the company’s Imaging and Printing Group in Asia Pacific/Japan, John Solomon, revealed that its research labs had developed a new black ink cartridge called `Simple Black’ to address what it has found to be the widest application of consumer ink jets: monochrome documents printed using the economical `draft’ mode of its printers.

    “Simple Black” for India
    “We introduced the `Simple Black’ in China, with great success and by the end of this year we plan to offer it in India, our other big market in Asia, where customers are very price conscious,” Mr. Solomon said. It will be priced at around Rs. 500 – which will make it only a little costlier than a refilled or third party cartridge, but about half what an original `black’ for a HP printer costs today.