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 user 2007-11-01 at 3:50:00 pm Views: 64
  • #18933

    Cartridge wars
    HP launches two-pronged defence
    nov 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.