Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Samsung enters corporate printer market

By Kim Yoo-chul

Samsung Electronics said Thursday that it will boost investment in printer development in order to become a leader in the corporate printer market that has been dominated by U.S. and Japanese companies.

Samsung, currently second-tier in printers, stressed it will seek to get on par with industry leaders Hewlett-Packard, Canon and Epson by 2012. Unlike its smartphones, tablets, components and TVs, Samsung has little competitive edge over its rivals.

``Samsung’s brand awareness in printers is still weak. Because our primary focus is to produce printers for offices rather than individual consumers, we are positive we can become a top global producer in A3 printers from 2015,’’ said Nam Seong-woo, head of the company’s information technology solutions division.

A3 printers, often used by corporate clients, are generally slower than A4 models. But Nam said its A3 printers are equipped with increased speed, high resolution and wireless technology as they use Samsung’s advanced chip-making technology.

``PCs have a shorter life cycle than printers, so no sudden changes are happening in A3 printers. Samsung is the top supplier in A4 laser printers. We are investing more in A3 printers with money earned from A4 models,’’ said the executive during a press conference at its headquarters in downtown Seoul.

The company is investing more in printers rather than PCs. It released new A3 and A4 models and combinations during the event.

Nam expects the market for printers to be estimated at some $130 billion with $40 billion and $90 billion for inkjet and laser printers respectively.

Samsung doesn’t plan to advance into inkjet printer markets because the company is eyeing clients in the United States, Europe and South Korea.

The firm’s strategy shift comes after Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman said that consumers are printing fewer photos, resulting in the world’s biggest printer supplier suffering a 10 percent drop in profit in the first quarter.

A major reason is people are flocking to Facebook and uploading billions of photos to the social networking service (SNS), where they can share digital images with their friends, meaning users don’t need to print photos and sent those copies as often.

``That’s right. But offices and buildings still print. That’s why we have shifted our strategy,’’ stressed Nam, admitting that it will experience tough periods before the printer business takes off.

In order to effectively handle this, Samsung is pricing its models higher in developed countries as Nam thinks his firm’s printers are well-positioned thanks to advanced features.

Compared to other variants, Samsung’s has released A3 color printers that are both high in quality and speed. Designed to mainly print text and illustrations, the laser applications are high in price due to the technology used to make them. While they come in both black and white and laser A3 color options, these printers will typically cost far more than the alternatives on the market.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Managed Print and Trickle-down Economics | Channelnomics

Managed Print and Trickle-down Economics

Hewlett-Packard is making a big deal out of recent customer wins in its managed print services (MPS) division, presumably because these new subscribers are very large organizations with diverse printing and document management needs.
HP’s new managed print customers are none other than Office Depot, Pace University and Global Experience Specialists. Office Depot is signing up to monitor and manage its distributed retail and commercial services. Pace University is looking to MPS to help curtail waste and cost among its 13,000 students. And Global Experience Specialists is seeking MPS to help optimize its workflow related to event and retail services.

These are big wins, indeed. And HP is not alone in the win column. Xerox recently announced aircraft manufacturing giant Boeing signed on for its Enterprise Print Services to consolidate and optimize the use of fax machines, printers and copiers in its fleet. Lexmark, too, had a big MPS win earlier this year when brewer Anheuser-Busch signed a deal to overhaul its printer fleet and get managed print support across the U.S. and Canada.

Vendors like talking about their big customer wins, especially when they have household name recognition. It exudes confidence to other would-be buyers and helps justify adoption. It’s a classic move right out of the pages of “Crossing the Chasm.”

Here’s the thing about managed print services: It’s still in the early-adopter phase of market acceptance, and it’s taking an excruciatingly slow time to mature. Printer vendors have been playing the role of Sisyphus in pushing managed print services to a reluctant and skeptical market. While vendors will point to substantial MPS gains and growth, these impressive numbers are often the result of the law of small numbers: It’s easy to show big gains when the base is so small.

No doubt these MPS wins by HP, Xerox, Lexmark, Ricoh and others are good for the cause, as they validate the model. But there’s something more to these announcement that should not be understated: a need to validate the managed print model.

Business customers remain skeptical because they see a recurring expense that actually reveals costs they never knew they had. Resellers and managed service providers have been cool to the model because it doesn’t necessarily fit into their current network and endpoint support. Worse, managed print requires MSPs to get into the consumables reseller business, something that’s a bit foreign to them.

Managed print, as a model and technology, is literally a license to print money. MSPs that have adopted it say it’s generating profits they could never get from printer sales alone. Customers who have managed print experience revel in its efficiency in performance and cost understanding.
Printer vendors should do a better job of promoting their reseller partners in these managed print announcements, as many of them omit that part of the sales equation. And, yes, some vendors are selling managed print direct; this is to seed the market and to recoup development expenses.
Promoting sales wins, especially among large business, will eventually validate the model and have a trickle-down effect to get small businesses to buy managed print rather than the conventional printer paradigm.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Getting started with Google's Cloud Print

Google makes printing to faraway printers easy in all sorts of situations
Sometime soon, you'll likely have something to print—and there's no guarantee you'll be at your home or office when the need strikes. You could make a reminder for yourself to print that e-mail or document the next time you're at your Mac or PC, or you could harness the power of the cloud to remove those traditional workplace boundaries and bring the printer to you.
Cloud printing has been around for a few years now, and it's actually very easy to set up. Google is the reigning champ in this space, with a product aptly named Cloud Print. With a few minutes of setup, you can have your Android, iPhone, Mac, or PC printing to printers in faraway places—even FedEx offices—from wherever and whenever you wish.

But what about AirPrint? Apple's wireless printing platform, first released in 2010 with iOS 4.2, is unfortunately limited to local networks. Even when connected to a home or office network over VPN, networked AirPrint-capable printers simply fail to identify. Perhaps, eventually, that will change. For now, Google is running the show.
Cloud Print can be set up in one of two ways. A number of manufacturers, including HP, Kodak, Epson, and Canon, already sell cloud-ready printers that "connect directly to the web and don't require a PC to set up." But what if you have a so-called "classic" printer, one that can't go online? You can still set that up too.

Because Cloud Print was initially conceived for use with Chrome OS, the setup process is handled entirely in Google's Chrome browser. To enable Cloud Print, head over to Chrome's Settings page, and select "Under the Hood." From there, you should see the option to enable Cloud Print from the bottom of the page.

Setting up Cloud Print requires you to go under the hood.
Setting up Cloud Print requires you to go under the hood.
The process is relatively painless from here. If you already have a printer installed in Windows or OS X, Cloud Print is smart enough to identify the device and prepare it for remote printing. You don't even need to keep Chrome open. A helper process runs in the background and listens for new print jobs. The only caveat, of course, is that both the printer and computer must remain on for cloud printing to work.

From here, you're probably going to want to, you know, print something. If you're using Chrome on any other Windows, Mac, or Linux computer, this too is easy. Any Chrome installation synced to your Google account has the ability to print to your cloud printers. If a friend or coworker has an existing Cloud Print setup, they can share their cloud-enabled printer with you, too. This can be useful in small business or team scenarios where multiple people can be given access to a shared printer in a remote location that is managed by someone else.

To print, simply select the Cloud Print option from Chrome's print page dialog. Doing so will open a browser pop-up that lists all of your cloud-enabled printers, in addition to any other printers that friends or co-workers have shared with your Google address.

Of course, you're not just limited to printing from Chrome (though this is the simplest way to get going). OS X users can use a third-party app called Cloud Printer to print a variety of documents from a local machine—and, with a few extra steps, can set up Cloud Printer to act as a virtual printer in any Mac app. Windows users can download a similar app called Paperless Printer. Both are free.

Google Cloud Print's web-based queue. Everything printed successfully.
Google Cloud Print's Web-based queue. Everything printed successfully.
Mobile use is, admittedly, a little more difficult. Unlike a desktop OS, mobile applications on Android and iOS require printer support to be included on a per-application basis, and every implementation is a little different. In other words, you won't necessarily be able to use Cloud Print with every application that also supports printing.

On Android, you'll be able to print from Google's mobile Chrome browser, for example, or within the native Google Docs app. There are also other capable apps listed on Google's website, as well as on the Play store. On iOS, however, native options are slim. Google says that the in-browser versions of its mobile apps support Cloud Print, and some websites apparently feature a Cloud Print button. However, perhaps the best approach is to use an alternative to remote printing all together. An app available for Windows and OS X called WePrint can monitor an e-mail address for new file attachments and print them using a local printer when received. Or, if you're a Dropbox user on OS X and feel more comfortable setting things up yourself, you can use Automator to automatically print any file synced to a local Dropbox folder.

It's not quite the same as having native print support in a given application, but it beats not being able to print at all.

Photograph by Google