by January 6, 2012 0 comments

Two years ago, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Inkjet and laser printers as we know them today. They came soon after the launch of the personal computer — in 1984 — when the first Inkjet and Laser printers were launched. The inkjet back then often cost more than $1,000, the first Laser printer we introduced was priced at $2,500. Up until then, the printing world revolved around dot matrix printers, which were direct descendants of the data recorders that preceded the era of computers.

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Inkjets for the Masses

In 1988, DeskJet was launched as the first mass marketed Inkjet printer; it offered continuous plain-paper printing and higher print quality than its predecessors, and was priced at about $1,000. It was still the least expensive non-impact printer in the market at the time. But DMPs were still cheaper, and the tide finally turned by 1993, when the list price of an Inkjet printer was brought down to $365.

Over the years, the printer industry has marched step in step with advancements in personal computing — costs of both the printer and printing have gone down, printing speeds have increased, and it is now possible to get lab-quality prints of photographs at home. In the last few years though, the three powerful forces — Internet, Cloud and Mobility — have had a dramatic impact on everything about computing, and the printing industry has not been left untouched. The industry in turn was quick to spot these trends and their influence on consumers, and turned its focus of innovation on leveraging them.

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The Modern Printer

The modern printer is an independent device that is always connected to the Internet, and it can run apps just like a computing platform. These apps can then connect and pull content for printing directly from the cloud, without involving a PC as an intermediary. For consumers, it means the freedom to click pictures from their smart phones anywhere in the world and email them to the home printer, where they would print automatically. They can schedule delivery of content using specific apps — for example it is possible today to read a personalized daily newspaper printed at your home at a time you want.

In the field of education, teachers can send assignments directly to students’ homes, where they get printed without any intervention required from a parent. For business users, it means the freedom to move around offices and locations and still be able to print documents in less than a few minutes, without calling tech support for locating printers and installing drivers. Already, over 10 million users around the world were using web-connected printers in 2011. We expect this number to grow to 50 million by the end of this year.

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