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 user 2009-04-03 at 12:47:53 pm Views: 61
  • #21992

    HP plans reign of ink from the cloud
    company wants to move consumer printing away from PCs and onto the web,
    shedding drivers along the wayHP has radical plans for the future of
    consumer printing, promising an end to printer drivers and the
    introduction of devices that just don’t care what you’re printing from
    — Windows, Linux, iPhone or your washing machine.ZDNet UK talked to
    Antonio Rodriguez, the chief technology officer of HP’s
    consumer-printing division, about the fundamental changes it wants to
    make to low-cost output.

    First, what do you define as consumer?
    we’re finding enterprises buying ‘consumer’ equipment.That’s an
    interesting dynamic. For me, it’s a question of: who’s buying it? If
    the people buying it use it, it’s consumer. If it’s being bought by
    people three stages away from the people who use it, it’s enterprise.

    What’s the thinking behind what you’re going to do?
    years ago when the inkjet was invented, it looked fantastic compared to
    the quality of screens and nothing else could touch it. Now, lots of
    people have caught up with inkjet technology, and screens are a lot
    better. It’s an incredible technical process squirting a billion
    droplets onto a sheet of A4, but it’s commonplace.There’s a move to
    authoring and editing digital content, so we want to focus on ways to
    do that which keeps printing relevant. And we’re excited that while
    people are used to thinking of printers in terms of feeds and speeds,
    they’re forgetting that printers these days have networked computers
    built in. We’re going to make a lot more use of that.There’s going to
    be a change in the way printers are named, too. Today, if you go to the
    store, there are more characters in the model number than there are
    letters in the alphabet. That’s before you get into driver hell.

    What does that mean in practice?

    take your printer home from the store and plug it into your network.
    It’ll register with our servers over the internet and you can link that
    registration with your various accounts.We have ways to make that easy.
    When you print, you print to our servers and those send the output to
    the printer. Or you’ll be on a web service, tell it what and how to
    print.It doesn’t matter what you want to print from, it’s a web
    service, so you can print from your computer, or your iPhone, or
    whatever. If you’re printing from Google Docs, for example, it really
    doesn’t matter what you’re using to access the web service. It could
    easily be a post-PC device.

    But you can print locally if you want?
    will be able to use it locally too: we support local discovery via
    Multicast DNS.Are people going to be comfortable with this change to
    web-based printing?The way that I see it, we have to deliver on a set
    of core printing experiences. People print as keepsakes, photos,
    collage, on-demand printing. They want to keep a memento. We know
    that’s a base human need.Where will it take place? Ten years ago, it
    was all desktop clients — Adobe, Office, etc. Now the data collecting
    is taking place on social networks. What we’ve done is gone to people
    like MySpace and said: “We will provide a set of web services that lets
    you expose more complex products”, so users can select photographs and
    have them delivered as collages, or formatted as cubes you can cut out
    of the paper. Then there’s utility printing — a map or a recipe is
    going to be……more useful on paper than on a laptop. And
    communication, printing out office documents for others to read.We’re
    looking at all three as digital workflows. That’s going to be a
    critical part of the future of printing as we progress along rich
    digital veins.

    Won’t the dependence on web services lock
    people into your servers, or could I build a web service that’s
    entirely independent of you?

    The architecture we’re designing,
    printing from the cloud, should let people deliver the services they
    want. Going wholly outside our system isn’t possible right now. We have
    to make sure our device works out of the box, and for that to work it
    has to be seamless. We won’t charge for these services, so there should
    be no reason for people to damage their ease of use by switching to a
    non HP-server.We don’t want to build an app store, as Apple has for the
    iPhone. We’re going to build in a plug-in infrastructure that others
    can use.

    And the same’s true for inputting documents?
    of course, so you can feed in documents to the cloud or services as
    well. There’s lots you can do with that. If you think of our devices as
    all-in-ones — scanners as well as printers — then you can use them to
    inject analogue documents into the digital workflow.

    How is this going to make you money?
    business model is closest to that of Amazon’s Kindle. They make a bit
    of money on the initial sale — money on the content, not on the
    connectivity. We want to delight our customers with what they
    get.Printing has had an explosive growth in the past, so it has been
    fine leaving the users to decide what to do. The advantage to us to
    going in this new direction is that it is a differentiator that makes
    our printers more attractive.Our services are better tied in to our
    output devices, like iTunes is to iPod, only we can work without a PC
    in a middle. No drivers, no software. We’re entering the era of the
    driverless printer, and we want to be in the lead of that.

    But you will have a very good idea of what people are printing when, every page and drop of ink…
    getting involved with the privacy people to make sure we’re OK there.
    We will know a lot about how the product is being used, the
    consumables, of course. In terms of security, we’re going to have the
    right thing, full strong encryption from client to printer. We’re lucky
    in that there are a lot of online storage services who’ve solved this
    already, so it’s a known problem.

    When will we see these new printers, and have you got a name for all this yet?
    fruits? End of the year, beginning of next. We have been experimenting
    online under the name CloudPrint, but we’ll have to wait for the
    marketing people to come up with the real name.