back to article HP to sell low-cost ink

Michael Hoffmann, the head of the European operations of HP's printer division, has told German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung that his company is going to sell low-cost ink alongside better quality cartridges. Customers will be able to buy more than one type of cartridge: from low-cost ink for bulk-printing purposes, to high …


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  1. Chris Fischer

    It's about time

    Well, isn't that nice. HP has finally decided that customers must be demanding lower costs options for ink and wants a piece of the action. I had hoped that Kodak's recently announced printer/ink lines would drive nails into HP's printing business. Maybe they have and this is just evidence.

    We ought to have some overly eager US state attorney general file litigation against the evil corporate giant for ink monopoly. Maybe we could force a spin off of the ink business. Yeah, that might work. :)

  2. Dan White

    Want to *bet* printer costs won't go up?

    For a couple of years I routinely bought new printers, and flogged them on ebay once the sample paper and ink cartridges ran out. Without exception it was cheaper than buying new cartridges!

    It's the old razor blades scam that has been running for years. Flog them a cheap razor, then screw them for the blades for years.

    Having done work in the large scale printing industry, I can assure you that you could buy a *gallon* of ink in trade for less than the retail cost of a single cartridge. With a mark up of over 200 times the real cost of ink, if cartridge prices go down, the profits will have to come from somewhere. I doubt that HP and the like will accept lower profits just for the sake of being nice.

  3. Shannon Jacobs

    Good side of expensive ink...

    So everything has at least two sides. One funny thing about the Japanese market (which I think is the only one where HP is not #1 in printers) is that the Japanese market leaders have focused on cheap ink cartridges. The main way to do that is by separating the print head from the cartridge. I recently lost a very expensive printer because the 'cheap ink' ruined the print head, and replacing the print head is seriously expensive. Actually, it may not have been the ink. Quite possible it was simply due to the fact that I print relatively rarely, and the best efforts of the printer to clean the head were ultimately futile.

    Part of the extra price for HP cartridges is because their printer designs include the print head with the ink--but that insures that a dead print head is not the same as a dead printer. The down side of that decision is that it does give them more leverage over the cartridges, and no company is going to resist trying to turn leverage into higher prices.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Heads gumming up

    Shannon's experience sounds like Epson. Had to throw out two printers that I bought at the same time because of gummed heads after one ink change. Used the expensive Epson ink too and they still gummed. Guess which printer company I'm never touching again.

    All the HP printers I've ever had have at least been reliable, but I now tend to look a cartridge costs first then buy the printer.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    memjet changes everthing

    Have you seen memjet yet ?

    If this stuff is for real it will make printing cheaper and faster.

    (Concerns : data transfer rate to sustain such speed, transfer (drying time), duplex speed, waste ink).

  6. Matt Milford

    Re: Want to *bet* printer costs won't go up?

    Err... of course they will go up, HP make a LOSS on every printer sold (certainly the low end ones) and make the money back from Ink.

    Buying new printers every time for sample paper and cartridges, I'd be careful, a lot of manufacturers give you a set of starter cartridges which are only half filled to get you started, making buying the new printer a false economy.

    You may be able to buy a gallon of ink in the large scale printing agency, but with an HP printer you replace the print heads with the cartridge, which I'm sure make up the bulk of the cost.

    Thats not to say that there isn't a signifigant markup on ink (and paper too).

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    epson ink

    epson ink is glycol based hence the 'gumming up' if the printer isnt used regularly.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Inks schminks

    New Canon Printer with 5 new ink cartridges - £55.00

    5 new Canon ink cartridges - £55.00

    No costest other than stupidity by printer manufacturers.

    And how 'green' is that!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Good side of expensive ink...

    I have known 4 "japanese printers" [Epson] where using genuine Epson ink tanks and not using the printer for 2-3 weeks was enough to bin the printer... My parents, my girlfriend, one of my maintenance techs and a neigbour, and the repair price is more than the cost of the complete printer.

    Since that point, they have all gone HP.

    Worse, I am currently under contract for that aforementionned "japanese printer company", and the focus is on selling - in the printer division - consumables and not hardware. The numbers are confidential but there is far, far more more than a "fair difference" between hardware and consumable sales... even when their ink prices been dropped...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lower prices = higher profits , that's just the basic capitalistic rule...

    that nowadays '68 and post-'68 managers simply don't get. Why their profits are lower when prices are higher ? Pretty simple, because 90%+ of the population simply can't afford buying products at insane prices. So instead of blaming the piracy thing they should lower their prices for a mass market if they want to make profit, instead of always trying to rip customers off.

  11. James Wilson

    Ungumming Epson heads

    You can often rescue Epson heads - remove the cartridges and drip a drop or two of window-cleaning fluid on to the bit where the ink gets taken from the cartridges. Do a clean and, with any luck, voila.

    I've rescued my Epson like this a few times (the printer doesn't get used that often and I use cheap ink). Your mileage may vary.

  12. Brennan Young

    Nice page about printer cartridges & ink longevity

    This announcement from HP is good news. Anything which demystfies the opaque inkjet market is a good thing. We know it's the 'razor blade' marketing model, but there's enough difference between the various manufacturers that one can't help wondering what kind of razor blade will give you the best shave (so to speak).

    ... and I just wanted to pass on this link to you folks:

    Yes, it's 'the' Tim Hunkin of 'Rudiments of Wisdom' and 'Secret Life Of Machines' fame.

    Hunkin points to a dearth of reliable (non-partisan) information about cartridges and ink, so he set about dismantling old cartridges (legit and no-name brands) and leaving prints out in the direct sunshine to discover what we're paying for.

    He has some very interesting comments about Epson vs. the other brands, and the importance of laminating. More of this stuff would be useful. Anyone else got any tips or resources?

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