HP turns to mobile and digitization to bring back a printing spark

BOISE – Despite the hype around the paperless office, Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) feels printers aren’t going away any time soon – and it’s counting on mobile to try to keep its products relevant.

On Nov. 12, HP hosted a media tour of its campus in Boise, Idaho, showing reporters around its product lines for imaging and printing, while giving them a sense of where the company is headed in the future. And that future is looking toward leveraging mobile devices to digitize data, HP managers said.

HP, which just shipped its 200 millionth LaserJet printer, is increasingly turning to digitizing printing and imaging, a trend reflected in its new fall product line. That’s especially true as people want to scan their documents and then make use of them later.

“There’s a lot of back and forth between printing and imaging,” said Brian Schmitz, director of future product marketing for LaserJet and enterprise solutions at HP. “People will store their data, and then come back and print them later … We’re seeing more scanning than copying nowadays.”

Among small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs), that generally means employees will store data in a consumer-friendly cloud repository, like Google Drive or DropBox, he added.

And while they may be using their printers less often, as well as upgrading their printers only as necessary, what may entice SMBs and enterprise alike to continue to invest in printing is mobile printing. HP wants to give its customers the option to print from whatever devices they choose, while trying to keep the process simple and customers’ data secure.

(Image: HP). The HP 1200W.
(Image: HP). The HP 1200W.

To fit in with the mobile printing trend, HP is launching the HP 1200W, an accessory that plugs into older printers that aren’t currently mobile-compatible. Launching Feb. 1 and promotionally priced at around $50, the accessory allows for near field communication (NFC) printing on older HP LaserJet or Officejet mobile printer. By tapping an NFC-enabled mobile device against the 1200W, users can print out any document stored on the device. They can also use the accessory for wireless direct printing, if they are carrying non-NFC-enabled devices, like Apple iPhones or iPads.

It also announced the HP Color LaserJet Pro multifunction printer M176 and M177 series, which gives SMBs a printer that also connects to cloud services like HP’s own cloud, the Flow CM Professional, or other third-party cloud services like Google Docs or Box.net. The printer was made available Nov. 1 and starts at around $370.

(Image: HP). The M176 / M177 printer for SMBs.
(Image: HP). The M176 / M177 printer for SMBs.

Essentially, HP currently has three goals in the mobile printing space, Schmitz said. First of all, it wants to improve the efficiency of document workflows, ensuring customers can be productive by scanning their data into either the cloud or onto corporate networks.

Secondly, HP also wants to make the mobile printing process simpler. For example, the 1200W doesn’t require any downloads or configurations, working out of the box and allowing users to get started as soon as they plug it into their printers and connect it to their mobile device.

And of course, HP wants to help its users stay secure, giving its customers the choice of sending data to the cloud, or to keep it solely within the corporate network.

While one of HP’s core businesses is still centred around printing, Schmitz said focusing on scanning is still worthwhile.

“You have to make a leap of faith,” he said, adding there’s still a need for printed legal documents and healthcare records. “In digitizing, you’re helping a print company. People still print, and removing paper seems crazy. But they’ll put [data] in the cloud first and then print it out again. Print is slowly growing.”

Still, to bring printing, scanning, and imaging back into the forefront, he said he feels there’s a need for more education around mobile and wireless printing, especially among SMBs. Many SMBs simply don’t know mobile printing is an option.

That comes down to education and marketing – something SMBs could benefit from, especially if it makes it easier to be productive within the workplace.

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Candice So
Candice Sohttp://www.itbusiness.ca
Candice is a graduate of Carleton University and has worked in several newsrooms as a freelance reporter and intern, including the Edmonton Journal, the Ottawa Citizen, the Globe and Mail, and the Windsor Star. Candice is a dog lover and a coffee drinker.

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