HP unveils SMB initiative

Hewlett-Packard Co. Wednesday introduced a collection of services, programs and new printers and scanners aimed at small and midsized businesses.

The cornerstone is HP's new online resource, the Printing and Imaging Expertise Center. The site provides SMB customers 24-7 online product support, free phone support, and live chat. The center includes product and technology information, classes on topics such as desktop publishing and how to set up a wireless network, buying advice, as well as drivers and diagnostics.

"Eighty percent of SMB customers make their purchasing decisions online," according to HP's U.S. commercial marketing manager, Rob Wait. "They have a huge need for support and advice. Most of these people are all alone - even if they're a single IT person in a 300-person company."

New workgroup printers include the HP LaserJet 1300 and 2300 series models. The 1300 series, which starts at US$399, delivers 20 pages per minute (ppm) output and a first page out in less than eight seconds, and includes a networking option. Stepping up, the 2300 family, which starts at US$549 delivers a print speed of 25 ppm and a first page out in less than 10 seconds. The price of several printers and one projector-HP Digital Projector xb31-have been cut by US$100.

"This market segment is probably our best hope for the future," Wait says. "These people are the next Cisco, the next Microsoft, the next Intel. They're going to come from this space when we come out recession. And we want to help them."

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