*NEWS*AN INKJET PRICE WAR……AT LAST !
*NEWS*AN INKJET PRICE WAR……AT LAST !
2007-02-21 at 10:58:00 am #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.