HP Hits Print in Beijing


New HP Services

New HP Services

Okay, as you'd expect from an enterprise and SMB-level event, it's not all about products and features but also broader trends and strategies. HP talked to us a lot about what they think to be the key trends in the printing world today; mobility and wireless printing, and the growth of services-based printing models, with some interesting new plans to take advantage of that growth.

 

Enterprise Mobile Printing

The big news of the day was the announcement of a new service called HP ePrint Enterprise Mobile Printing, which allows enterprise users to print wirelessly through the cloud using Blackberry phones. With ePrint, users can use their Blackberry phones to search for printers near their location which are linked to their intranet servers, whether in their base offices or in satellite locations. A user can then simply email an attachment to a printer, which will print the document accordingly - no need for printer driver installation or manual input of IP addresses.

HP is also rolling out ePrint for public print locations, which lets users print wirelessly from Blackberry phones. Hilton Hotels is named as an initial partner and other locations are expected to be announced.

Although this sounds potentially useful for a person on the move, we wondered about the difference between setting up infrastructure to print wirelessly from a Blackberry phone to a intranet printer in a satellite office, compared to simply emailing the file to a colleague in that same office and asking him to help you print it. HP representatives would only hint that this was the first step in a larger tech development which they couldn't talk about yet. Humph. When asked if this ability can be made into other mobile phones, they would only say to "watch this space." Double humph.

 

Save Money or We'll Pay You

HP has a pretty bold plan for enterprise customers, called the HP Printing Payback Guarantee. Essentially, you either save money using HP printers, or HP pays you. First, HP conducts an assessment of a company's printing needs, develops recommendations and calculates a projected printing cost savings figure, which both parties agree to. One year after a full implementation of HP's recommendations, HP conducts a second assessment. If the customer hasn't saved the projected costs, HP will pay the difference. The initial rollout will be in New Zealand, Australia and Singapore.

 

HP QuickPage is Just Like a Mobile Phone Plan

How do SMBs choose which printers to buy? According to Sandra Ng from ICT, brand preference comes third in importance. Print speeds? Fourth. Hardware price ranks second and the cost to operate is the most important attribute for SMBs. Most SMBs then turned to managed print services (MPS) to manage costs, more so than those who just switched to duplex or limited color printing. Thing is, MPS plans have been available for enterprise-level customers only. HP wants to change that.

QuickPage is a contractual service offered for SMBs to help them manage their printers and printing and it covers new hardware, installation, supplies and support. HP describes it like a mobile phone plan, customers select the HP printer or MFP and the monthly volume of pages based on their expected use. The contract is good for 3 years and the customer pays a predictable fee. HP says you can't break the contract without consequence nor change the printer, or keep the printer after the 3 years, but you can upgrade or downgrade the number of pages per month.

At the same time, HP predicts reduced expenses for the customer, a predictable and transparent monthly cost for hardware, service and supplies, simple supplies ordering and less pressure on IT personnel who may not have the expertise or the time to focus on optimizing an SMB's printing costs and needs. QuickPage is expected to roll out in different countries in different timeframes, starting June/July in Australia and New Zealand.

 

InCommand Makes You In Command

To support the QuickPage service, HP is rolling out the InCommand portal, a cloud-based printing management website that helps QuickPage customers order supplies and access real-time status information about their printer usage. This is huge, because most SMBs (or even enterprises) don't know for sure how much money their printers and printing is costing them over time, either because they don't have the manpower or the tools to track. With QuickPage and InCommand, the printers automatically ping the HP servers when they're used, making it easy to see just how has been printed and how much it costs.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to see a demo of the InCommand portal in action. HP says that this is just the announcement for now, and the official launch will happen country by country, with contract sales happening through HP's MPS channel partners.