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 user 2009-03-31 at 11:42:54 am Views: 35
  • #22005
    Epson Uses Integrated Ink to Eliminate Cartridges
    one small step forward in the struggle to shut down third party ink
    manufacturers mean a big step backward for a major printer maker? Epson
    has raised its hand and volunteered to answer this interesting question
    as it tests out a new cartridge-free inkjet printer with built-in ink
    in a select group of schools. The new EC-01 will be able to print
    around 8,500 pages, after which you drop it off with Epson to get it
    recycled and collect a monetary deposit you can use toward purchasing
    your next EC-01. Yes, you read that correctly – instead of replacing a
    cartridge, you replace the whole printer. Crunchgear had the EC-01 on
    its radar back in September, when an Epson spokesman apparently
    explained away the inefficiency with an analogy to Coke bottles – just
    as a Coke bottle’s value comes from the refreshment its contents can
    provide, a printer’s true value lies in the pages it produces with its
    ink. As a result, the container (i.e. the printer) doesn’t mean as
    much, and is therefore expendable.

    My initial reaction, after
    reading a few sources and an online forum or two, is that it looks like
    a classic case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Epson wants
    to market the EC-01 as a green and recyclable alternative under its
    Environmental Vision 2050 campaign. But in reality, it seems more like
    a roundabout plan to shut out the third party ink and toner cartridge
    makers who have undersold Epson and other original equipment
    manufacturers (OEMs) for years.

    We’ve talked about the issue of
    OEMs attempting to subvert third party cartridge makers, either through
    allegedly anti-competitive practices or good old-fashioned litigation.
    The main problem is that ever since third party makers started selling
    similar quality ink and toner cartridges at much lower prices, the big
    printer makers have naturally lost market share. The legal and
    administrative process hasn’t worked out so well, which means OEMs may
    have to suck it up and compete, or resort to more heavy-handed tactics.
    In this case, to use a playground analogy, it sort of looks like Epson
    is considering picking up its ball in the middle of the game and either
    yelling “New Rule! New Rule!” (i.e. a cartridge-free printer) or going
    home because it’s not so sure it can win anymore.

    There are so
    many questions to ask. Is it really cost-effective to manufacture and
    recycle an entire printer over and over again, as opposed to a small
    cartridge? And if it’s not, does that mean the quality of the machine
    will suffer? Also, how can you schedule and administer printer pickups
    and dropoffs without wasting gas, time and resources? And how did that
    Epson rep keep a straight face when comparing a cheap Coke bottle to a
    complex and capable machine like a printer? Perhaps there are logical
    answers to these questions that would erase my initial skepticism. Then
    again, maybe not. Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see how OEMs
    continue to address the challenges they face from third party ink and
    toner makers in an increasingly competitive industry.