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 user 2007-11-01 at 3:52:00 pm Views: 40
  • #19087

    Cartridge wars
    HP launches two-pronged defence
    2007 : ireland:There are lies, damned lies, and press releases. The
    battle for inkjet cartridge mindset and consumers’ euros has long been
    a contentious issue as the OEM printer manufacturers strive to protect
    their very profitable piece of turf in a market worth $25 billion
    worldwide. Printer manufacturers successfully play on fear, uncertainty
    and doubt (the so-called FUD factor) while their competitors play
    successfully on lower prices and environmental benefits, despite the
    FUD propaganda.

    The latest battle in the war of words takes the
    form of a two-pronged strike by HP. The first arm of its pincer
    movement was the recent publication of a comparative report claiming
    better page yields and higher quality results from HP brand cartridges
    compared to refills. The firm’s second strike against the refiller
    market was the announcement that its new cartridges now come in two
    sizes, with one costing much less (and printing fewer pages).The
    authors of the comparative report claimed that “European research firm
    Innovationstechnik proves original HP inkjet cartridges print more and
    are more reliable than alternatives”. Since the report was commissioned
    by HP, it is fair to assume we may never have heard about it if the
    researchers had reached the opposite conclusion.The report concluded
    that HP ‘originals’ print 34% more pages than compatible alternatives
    and 69% more than refilled cartridges. The commissioned report also
    concluded that more than one in five compatible alternatives was dead
    on arrival or failed prematurely and that one in three refills was DoA
    or failed prematurely. The test covered 1,000 inkjet cartridges from 16
    established European suppliers, including Pelikan, Staples, Tesco,
    Cartridge World and Vobis.

    HP’s advertising in Britain recently
    led to a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority by the UK
    Cartridge Recyclers Association by suggesting that using refilled
    cartridges was like “eating used food” and by suggesting that the
    environmental benefits of recycled cartridges were of little
    significance.Commenting on the results of the Innovationstechnik study,
    HP IPG country manager Gary Tierney told Irish Computer: “Second-hand
    ink cartridges clearly carry a risk . . . Consumers should be clear
    that, whichever type of second-hand cartridge they choose, they will
    probable get less both in terms of reliability and the number of pages
    they can print. There is a clear trade-off for paying a lower price,
    and this research really underlines that.”

    After collating
    material from focus groups, market research and help desk calls, HP
    concluded that its inkjet customers’ profile can be broadly divided
    into two groups. One comprises low-level users who want low prices. By
    contrast, the second group prints more pages and is more concerned
    about long term values and infrequent intervention rates. So now HP
    provide two cartridge sizes. Its Standard pack prints about 200 pages
    (rated by the ISO/IEC 24711 system of calculating yield), and costs
    €9.99. The Value pack has more ink, yielding about 1,000 pages and
    reducing the cost per page by between 35 and 55%, HP claims. A third
    type, the photo cartridge, will be available for some printers for
    premium quality and enhanced performance.

    All major OEM
    suppliers are caught up in ink wars. Epson’s main battle is with the
    compatible cartridge manufacturers – of which there are hundreds in
    Asia, according to Iain Friar, Epson’s European IP manager. He says
    Epson has a robust patent enforcement policy, with 25 infringement
    cases settled in Europe in the past 18 months.Friar said a high
    proportion of printers returned to service centres contained non-Epson
    cartridges. He said most problems resulted from dirty ink, bubbles, and
    the use of conventional ink in printers designed for pigments, which
    have different characteristics.