This Week in Imaging: Locking in Supplies Revenue
This week, the toner-ink supplies wars continued, with HP Inc. announcing that in the future, it’ll be marketing two kinds of printers under two different business models – a traditional model that only accepts HP cartridges, and a higher-priced model that can accept third-party supplies.
Meanwhile, rival Epson has taken a different tack. For the last several years, Epson’s been marketing various inkjet Eco Tank models with refillable ink tanks and A3 WorkForce models that use replaceable ink packs, all of which provide a much lower cost per page – in return, pricing for the units is higher, upending the razor-and-blades business model. Epson appears at least somewhat successful with this approach, and in July 2018 announced it had sold some 30 million ink-tank models.
HP also markets refillable ink-tank models, as well as the first refillable toner-tank laser printer, the Neverstop, which it says has an 80-percent lower toner cost compared to its other models. However, these refillable tank models appear to only be available in emerging economies, not in Europe or North America. Instead of marketing printers that can be used with third-party supplies and losing supplies revenue, why not make these toner and tank models more widely available?
Meanwhile, HP’s continues to pursue its other alternative: SMB and office A4 and A3 models with managed print services that lock in the use of only HP supplies. Ultimately, HP may even eventually abandon the lower-end toner and ink segments whose supply streams can’t be locked in, or just maintain a smaller presence. Although it says its Instant Ink automatic-ink replacement service for home and small office customers has been very successful, the pressure from lower-cost non-HP supplies continues.
Meanwhile, HP partner Canon Inc., which makes most of the laser printers HP sells, continues to intensify its campaign to remove third-party toner cartridges from the marketplace – in particular, from the Amazon ecommerce website. How much harm these third-party toner cartridges sold on Amazon have hurt HP’s supplies revenue stream is hard to say, but it’s likely to be substantial.
This Week in Imaging