HP Wants to Wire Your Printer

SAN FRANCISCO (04/19/2000) - Hewlett-Packard Co. wants to convert your desktop printer into a wired appliance that makes your life easier.

That was the theme here Wednesday, as HP's top brass outlined an "e-services ecosystem" of corporate alliances, technologies, and new products designed to make your work less complicated and help the market leader sell many more printers.

"Printers are not just peripherals, not just beige boxes," says Carly Fiorina, HP's chief executive officer. "This beige box will simplify your life."

Citing the end of the "pure product era," Fiorina says a successful hardware vendor must wrap services around its products. HP plans to do so with its printers largely through partnerships intended to serve both consumers and businesses, she says.

The following partners have ready applications for HP ink jets:

Federal Express Corp. With its interNetShip software--which lets you print shipping labels from your PC--FedEx now works with ink jet as well as laser printers. Market research firm IDC says 72 percent of small businesses use an ink jet printer.

EncrypTix, a spin-off of another partner, Stamps.com Inc. EncrypTix provides encryption technology so you can buy concert tickets, stamps, and other items using the Internet and a home printer.

Mimeo.com Inc., which offers printing services via a secure system. You can securely transmit documents online to Mimeo, and it prints, copies, and returns them to you.

Other Printer Pals

HP announced two high-end hardware devices that fit into its grand new vision: the JetDirect 4000 print appliance and the HP document router.

The JetDirect 4000 appliance is for use on an office network, says Carolyn Ticknor, president of HP printing and imaging systems. The device offloads print traffic from the network, holding documents in a queue instead of a network server for faster printing. The product is scheduled to ship in May with an estimated price of $1499.

HP will introduce a document router this fall for medium-sized businesses. It will use technology from recent HP acquisition Dazel to provide secure delivery of documents.

Fiorina also mentioned HP's new Jornada 540, a Pocket PC also announced Wednesday that runs Microsoft's updated operating system for handhelds. The new Jornada will also work with select HP printers: It uses the company's JetSend technology and an infrared connection to print in color.

HP's Printer Priorities

HP is throwing its weight behind this initiative because it sees the already lucrative print market expanding from $40 billion today to better than $100 billion in the next 3 years, Fiorina says.

And IDC sees an even brighter future, she says, pointing to a report that predicts a $130 billion industry by 2004.

To put it in perspective, Ticknor says up to this point HP has sold about 150 million printers and imaging devices. She says the company expects to sell another 150 million in the next 4 years.

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