Is HP Bringing its ‘Instant Ink” Automatic Cartridge-Replacement Program to Laser Printers?

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HP Inc.’s Instant Ink program appears to be quite popular among users, with HP noting last summer, for instance, that over half-a-million users have signed up for the program. Under the program, customers of eligible HP inkjet printers and All-in-Ones (currently 17 models) sign up for the program, indicating how many pages they expect to print each month, with subscriptions as low as $2.99 per month for printing up to 50 pages per month. The Web-connected inkjet printer or All-in-One monitors printing usage, then notifies HP when ink is low, and HP automatically ships new ink cartridges to the customer, billing the customer the monthly fee. The benefits are several: the customer never has to visit an online or brick-and-mortar store to replace ink, and never runs out of ink at a critical time. Moreover, color pages don’t cost more than black pages, and Cost per Page is very low – as low as 3.3 cents per page, regardless of color or black-and-white, ink page coverage, or page size.

In a CastleInk interview with HP Inc. resident “inkologist” Thom Brown said that HP is “analysing the market and determining the best strategy and best customer experience” when asked about whether HP is considering expanding the program to its laser printers.

HP may also be considering increasing the current the maximum number of pages under the Instant Ink program – currently, three plans are available, with the highest volume being 300 per month for $9.99 per month, with each additional 25 printed pages costing $1.

HP began the program in the United States, and has now expanded it to Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France. For more information on HP Instant Ink, visit HP here.

Epson May Have Also Been Considering Ink-Cartridge Billing Programs

What’s interesting is that, back in 2013, Seiko Epson was granted a U.S. patent, #8489521, for an ink-billing system.

Under Epson’s system, the inkjet printer uses optical sensors to measure the amount of ink remaining in an ink cartridge, and calculates ink usage based on the remaining amount. A data-processing device is connected to the printer to obtain data about the remaining ink. This data is then sent over a network to a server in a service center. Then a billing module at the service center server references an ink billing table to determine the billing amount. The customer is then billed for the amount of ink used.

Epson, however, doesn’t seem to have followed through with this, and instead has begun marketing inkjet printers and All-in-Ones with refillable ink tanks.

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