HP Exposes Printer Roots in Web Services Push

SAN MATEO (04/22/2000) - Betting that its core competency will both pave the way toward a global Internet ecosystem for businesses and consumers and ease potential headaches associated with paper-intensive applications, Hewlett-Packard last week announced its Printing E-Service, a Web-based community of partners and services that will provide "millions of new reasons to hit the print button," said Carly Fiorina, CEO of Hewlett-Packard Co..

With HP printers as the central "Internet appliance," alliances with Federal Express Corp., ImageTag Inc., NewspaperDirect Inc., printCafe, Mimeo.com Inc., Stamps.com Inc., and EncrypTix Inc. comprise the initial Printing E-Service.

"The pure product era is over," Fiorina said, stressing the increasing importance of "services wrapped around [the] products."

Those services, beginning with Internet newspapers, electronic ticketing, auctions, shipping and mailing services, and digital photography, will expand into a diverse, $100 billion market over the next three years, according to Fiorina.

"But it's not all about printing," said Rich Raimondi, senior vice president and general manager of HP's Services and Solutions.

"Look for many nonprinting services to come along, like application providing, service providing, new e-services, retailers, and portal players," Raimondi said.

A source within Consonus, a Portland, Oregon-based e-business management company, confirmed it has developed a Web architecture for HP that is capable of integrating multiple applications.

HP officials also plan to announce this week an extensive e-service portal that goes beyond the Printing E-Service initiative. Scheduled to take place in San Francisco, the announcement will be led by Nick Earle, president of the HP eServices Solutions group.

At a time when most major computer makers, such as Dell Computer Corp., IBM Corp., and Compaq Computer Corp., are making headway into Internet-based service offerings and management tools, industry observers attending last week's HP announcement in San Francisco registered some surprise that HP would begin their offering with a paper-based approach, particularly when HP partner FedEx already has paperless solutions, such as Net Return, for dealing with problems such as package rerouting.

"Paper is a generational thing," Raimondi said. "The role of paper is changing, and today we're more and more taking paper out of the process. But at the end of the day, most people want that document in their hand, they want that piece of paper."

One analyst believes HP is right by falling back on its legacy of being a leader in the printing market in order to open up future opportunities for itself.

"HP has to find something to differentiate themselves from their competitors," said Sam Albert, an Scarsdale, New York-based independent industry analyst.

"But this solution is only going to be as good as the cooperation of the complementary resources, [in other words], their partners."

Hewlett-Packard Co., in Palo Alto, California, is at www.hp.com.

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