Years ago I worked for an IT consultancy. I had an inkjet background, which led to me being continuously baited by almost everyone else that laser printers were for businesses and inkjet was for kids to use at home. Unfortunately some of that attitude still prevails with IT staff in many companies, both large and small. Even today inkjet is still perceived as blocked nozzles, paper feeding problems, and continuously changing ink tanks. As if!
Many vendors have tried to enter the networked printer market with inkjet devices. True, sales of scanning head printers into businesses is growing, but they are increasingly competing against colour laser printers which are still getting cheaper each year. Colour laser tends to be faster than inkjet, or it was until Memjet came along.
We’ve talked about Memjet’s 60 page per minute desk-top printer before. It is actually a fairly simple device, particularly compared to colour laser printers, and much faster. There is a single page-wide printhead, simple paper feed, four ink tanks and that’s it. No need for the complexities and multiple consumables of colour laser printers. The current generation of Memjet printers use aqueous dye-based inks, which means there is some sensitivity of image quality and optical density to the paper used. But what so many people seem to forget is that to get the best out of any printer – including colour laser printers – you should choose an appropriate paper type. It’s not like there is no choice!
So how will Memjet get their printers into the market? Retail outlets attract customers who print 6 pages per month, not 60 pages per minute. The Memjet printer is well suited to SMEs who use dealers for business equipment. In what Memjet hope is a “win-win” offering, customers will be offered an “all-in” pricing model. For a fixed monthly payment ranging from £49-£149 per month you get all of your printing costs paid for – machine, inks – everything except the paper. It doesn’t matter whether you print in black and white or colour, or what the area coverage is, the cost is the same. What happens if you exceed your monthly page allowance? Just like a mobile phone contract you are charged for the extra pages. The printer hooks up to a phone line, so tells the dealer how many pages you have printed, and when the ink is running out. For the customer they have fixed printing costs, for the dealer a regular income with consumables supply.
At the Memjet UK launch last week, slogan “Speed Wins”, guests could have their photo taken with Olympic Gold Medal cyclist Victoria Pendleton. The photos were of course printed out on a Memjet printer, and I attach a print sample. Thankfully there was a suitable delay between the camera flash and the print coming out so we could have a little chat. Evidently the weight of carrying the medals around is taking its toll on her handbag. The downside of being an Olympic athlete!
Mike Willis, Pivotal Resources