This Week in Imaging: Is ‘Razor and Blades’ for Inkjets Dead?


Photo credit: Kathy Wirth

The price of ink for use in home and small-office inkjet printers has been compared to the price of one of the world’s most expensive perfumes, but we’re clearing seeing an important sea change now.

First, there was the HP Ink Advantage Program, under which the customer pays a fixed low cost per page (approximately 50-percent lower than the cost per page for non-Ink Advantage ink), and uses all the ink they need. HP monitors the printer’s ink levels and automatically mails the customer ink cartridges when ink runs out, billing the customer each month for the customer’s selected print-volume plan.

Second, we noted the availability of and tested several of Epson’s “L” series of printers and All-in-Ones that are factory-equipped with CISS (Continuous Ink System Supply) and employ bottled ink with a ridiculously low cost per page. Unfortunately, this line of printers is only available in primarily non-English speaking countries.

Third, in January 2015, we reported on Epson MFPs equipped Replaceable Ink Packs that Epson introduced for North America.

Fourth, we reported on and tested Brother’s new INKvesment Business Smart Plus Series All-in-Ones with large-capacity ink cartridges and the lowest cost per page yet for cartridge-based inkjet All-in-Ones.

Finally, at the Epson EcoTank launch conference we attended this week in New York City, we were treated to the U.S. introduction of five new EcoTank All-in-Ones featuring super high ink yields and super low cost per page.

Consequently, it appears the “razors and blades” business model for inkjet printers is on the way out – with Seiko Epson President Minori Usui declaring such for Epson on the stage of the Epson EcoTank event on Tuesday. Will other vendors be next? Stay tuned – but be sure to check out our article on the Epson EcoTank All-in-Ones, and some of our key observations, including how while users will likely love the super high-yield ink capacities, they will also be required to pay more upfront.

It’s to nice to hear that Kodak is finally on the upswing after decades of decline due to muddled management. The reason that we’re even mentioning this is that we noted the recent availability of Kodak’s new Kiosk Connect App for both iOS and Android mobile devices. This news is dear to our hearts, as it hearkens back to Kodak’s heyday in the world of photography.

Wi-Fi enabled Picture Kiosks are now available at select CVS/pharmacies, Target, and Bartell Drugs in the United States, Officeworks in Australia, and selected Boots, Tesco, and Kodak Express stores in the United Kingdom. The Kiosk app allows users to wirelessly send photos from their mobile device for printing to a Wi-Fi equipped Picture Kiosk. Click here to locate your nearest Kodak Picture Kiosk.

Feature Stories

  • New Epson EcoTank Inkjets Said to Print up to Two Years Without Needing Ink Replacement – Read more here.
  • Sharp Reports Net Loss of $274 Million; MFP Sales Steady; Will Exit TV Business in Americas – Read more here.

Financial News

  • Smaller Loss for Kodak, Commercial Printing Sales and Revenue on the Upswing – Read more here.
  • Slight Dip in Printer/MFP Revenue for OKI’s First Quarter, but Total Sales Up – Read more here.
  • First-Quarter Income Down for Epson, but Printer Revenue Remains Healthy – Read more here.
  • PrintFleet: 50-Percent of its Revenue Now Generated Outside of North America – Read more here.

Office-Imaging News

  • Four New A3 MFPs from Konica Minolta with NFC Mobile Connectivity, Open API – Read more here.
  • Quocirca: Xerox is Leader in Global Managed Print Services Market – Read more here.
  • RJ Young Acquires Advantage Business Solutions in Tennessee – Read more here.

Commercial- and Production-Printing News

  • New OKI C831TS Compact Textile Printer for Customizing, Decorating T-Shirts, Etc. – Read more here.
  • New OKI C941DP Envelope Printer Prints in Color, Plus White and Clear – Read more here.

Other News

  • TABS President Maccabe Named President & CEO of Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions – Read more here.
  • President Obama Highlights Xerox’s Wilson Rule for Promoting Diversity in the Workplace – Read more here.

The Third Dimension

China’s Breakthrough in 3D Printing for Shipbuilding

Honda Access Gains Competitive Advantage with Car Accessories Prototyped by Stratasys 3D Printer

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