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 user 2007-02-21 at 10:58:00 am Views: 33
  • #17790

    An inkjet price war, at last
    been a long time coming: in an inkjet market dominated by three
    companies whose business plan is to make profits by selling overpriced
    consumables (ink cartridges), it was only a matter of time before
    someone would come in with lowball prices. Kodak, bless their corporate
    hearts, have obliged.Earlier this week, Big Yellow announced three
    inkjet printers, dangling the promise of 10-cent 4×6 prints. The press
    gobbled it up, and rightly so. Cutting the price of making a print at
    home in half is big news.

    $10,000 per gallon!
    overpriced have inkjet catridges been? My friend and former co-worker
    Mike McNamara at Popular Photography & Imaging recently calculated
    that a Magenta HP ink cartridge for its Photosmart 8200 series holds
    3.5ml and costs around $9.99. There are 3,785 ml in a gallon…and
    therefore, a gallon of magenta ink would cost $10,788 per gallon! .Mike
    went on to predict that oil–sorry, I meant ink–prices would continue
    to rise this year. That was before Kodak introduced its trio of
    all-in-one (scan/print/copy) printers and pigment-based inks they say
    will cost half as much as inkjet inks from Canon, HP, and Epson. So…I
    guess that means the price has gone down to $5,000 a gallon. It’s a
    Let’s look at how this can play out.

    Scenario 1: A real price war.
    Canon and Epson see consumers flocking to Kodak thanks to an
    advertising and viral Internet publicity blitz , and get the hint. The
    three companies introduce a new generation of printers that use less
    expensive inks. OK, maybe they won’t last quite as long as current
    ones, but probably won’t start fading for at least 25 years–comparable
    to a typical photo lab print. The battle is joined. Consumers win.

    Sceneario 2: Kodak bombs, prices stay high
    it could happen. Kodak, a latecomer to digital printing, may not be
    percieved as a serious player in the public mind, and sales of the new
    units are slow. Kodak hasn’t helped itself by limiting the distribution
    of two of the three printers to a single retail source. Consumers miss
    out on price competition–except on the 5500–the most expensive
    model–which will be widely available in May. Kodak took a risk here.
    Consumers who already use online printers stick with them.

    Scenario 3: An inkjet caste system develops
    most likely scenario, in my opinion, is this one: premium, high-end
    inks for professional and enthusiast use will continue to be expensive
    and unaffected by Kodak’s announcement. But most inkjet printer
    companies will reduce pricing on consumer-level inkjet inks. For the
    non-descerning eye, the difference will hardly be noticed, and the
    lower price will be welcomed. I also think Kodak will add lower-price
    printers that will be widely distributed, which will bring down the
    cost of entry. Consumers win.

    What about online processing?
    what does this do to online processing? There is still the convenience
    factor: with online processing, you don’t need to invest in a printer
    and keep ink and paper stock in your home. Just press “upload” and they
    do the rest.There is also an added value in labs who know how to coax
    the best print quality out of image files, something that might take
    some effort at home. For example, Adorama’s PIX Photo Center (go here)
    gives users the option to let them (PIX) choose the best print settings
    based on their experience.Many labs make this process easy, and should
    continue to develop software for home PC users (and don’t forget Mac
    users!) to make uploading and processing large batches of photos
    push-button simple. By keeping the price competitive and emphasizing
    the advantages, online processing labs should ride out a home printing
    craze, if it comes.

    The next phase
    spend so much time thinking about the cost of making prints at home and
    online? Because the digital camera industry is starting to show signs
    of maturity: camera prices have fallen, and sales are starting to
    flatten. Expect this trend to continue, since most consumers have by
    now purchased at least one digital camera.Printing, organizing,
    sharing, and preserving images will take on greater importance now as
    we enter the next phase in the digital age. Look for new, innovative
    things to do with all of these image files clogging our computers, USB
    drives, and memory cards.